Six months since work began on the airport interchange on U.S. 63, trees have been cleared and the road has been graded.
Crews have also finished the bridge foundation at Turkey Creek and the center pier for the Route H bridge.
The $9.8 million state project at U.S. 63 and Route H began in August and is on schedule to open in fall 2012.
“We’ve removed about 85 percent of the dirt, and the road is pretty close to being ready for concrete,” said Charles Sullivan, resident engineer with the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Concrete work on two new southbound lanes will start in early spring when ground temperatures begin to warm.
“We will be working on bridge work for most of the winter and then work on the main roads when we get out of winter,” Sullivan said.
The new interchange will allow Route H to cross over U.S. 63. The overpass will feature two elevated roundabouts and exit ramps leading to the existing northbound land and a new southbound lane. The current southbound lane will become an outer road.
The retaining wall on the east side of the interchange is near completion, and the west wall was started on Thursday.
“It will definitively be an improvement for people getting to the airport and to other businesses in the area,” said Jill Stedem, public information specialist with Columbia Public Works Department.
Some residents in the area have found the construction intrusive but expect it to eventually be a vital improvement for the area.
"It really is a hassle, but in the end it will all be worth it," Janet Wolf said, who lives on Log Providence Road where the project is taking shape.
The interchange will be under construction throughout 2012, and motorists can access Route H by exiting U.S. 63 at Roadside Park. From there, Hardwick Lane connects to Route H, which leads to the airport. The detour will remain until the project is finished.
An estimated 24,000 motorists cross the U.S. 63-Route H, intersection each day, Sullivan said. Another 1,400 motorists exit Route H onto U.S. 63 every day.
The project is intended to increase safety, improve traffic flow and allow easier access to the airport.
In March 2007, an Ashland teenager was killed while driving to school when she crossed the intersection at U.S. 63 on Route H.
Construction will take approximately 18 months, depending on the weather.