Prep work on $9.7 million Highway 54, Osage Hills Road interchange continues

Dan Field
Lake Sun Leader

The City of Lake Ozark has a stake in the $9.7 million interchange construction project underway at Highway 54 and Osage Hills Road.

M&M Landscaping and Construction, LLC, of Eugene, was contracted by the city to relocate major water and sewer lines between Highway 54 and Business 54 not far from Mt. Carmel Baptist Church to allow for construction of the interchange. The utility lines serve the Osage National Resort area.

Crews began the relocation project Wednesday afternoon, May 27, and worked into the night by installing a 20-inch protective steel casing under Business 54 for the waterline. A portion of Business 54 near the entrance to Willmore Lodge was reduced to one-way traffic while the trench was dug for the waterline casing. Casings for the sewer line will be installed during the week of June 1, weather permitting.

After the casings are in place, the existing water and sewer lines will be relocated and passed through the casings. 

The board of aldermen approved a $276,085 contract with M&M several weeks ago for the work. A partial payment of $112,950 was approved by the board May 26. City Administrator Dave Van Dee told the board that MoDOT originally planned to reimburse the city before COVID-19 hit. He isn’t sure how much the state will be able to provide with state resources impacted by the coronavirus. The cost, before possible reimbursement, will be shared between the city’s water and sewer departments.

“I don’t want people to be confused,” Van Dee explained. “We’re not extending new water and sewer service under the highway at this time. We’re only putting casings under the highway to allow for the service in the future.”

He noted, however, that water and sewer service will eventually be extended to a proposed industrial site on the east side of Highway 54. Alderman Judy Neels reminded fellow board members and staff that there are residential areas within the city limits that don’t have utility service that should be considered first. The mayor and city administrator acknowledged those needs and noted they will be addressed in a future plan.

Interchange project

The interchange is scheduled for completion December 2021. Emery Sapp and Sons submitted the low bid of $9,711,377. 

This is an effort to improve safety at this location, MoDOT has explained. The most recent data states that 32 crashes took place during the last five years at that intersection. 

The new interchange will replace the existing signaled intersection in an effort to increase traffic safety and improve traffic flow. The project will involve building two new bridges on Route 54, just west of the existing intersection, as well as three roundabouts near the interchange. Crews will also complete grading and paving to incorporate the intersections of Route 54, Business Route 54, Route W and Osage Hills Road into the interchange.

Occasional lane and road closures will be necessary as part of this project on all impacted roadways. MoDOT will alert motorists to closures through itsTraveler Information Map, signs, local media, social media, and this website.