COLUMBIA — New southbound lanes on U.S. 63 will open Wednesday north of Route 163 and just beyond the Columbia Regional Airport interchange at Route H.
At the same time the new lanes begin to open at 10 a.m., existing parallel lanes on U.S. 63 will close to allow construction of the southbound on- and off-ramps to the Route H interchange.
The old section of U.S. 63 will likely remain closed until the entire Route H interchange project is completed about Nov. 1, said Kirsten Munck, assistant to Chuck Sullivan, resident engineer with the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Drivers going south on U.S. 63 will still need to detour at Angel Lane to reach the airport.
Beginning Tuesday morning, MoDOT crews started preparing the new roadway for the switch. The highway around Route H was reduced to one lane Tuesday; a lane closure will remain in place on U.S. 63 until the switch is completed.
According to a MoDOT news release, the new lanes should be fully open by 6 a.m. Thursday.
Southbound drivers should expect delays Wednesday as road crews prepare both old and new sections of U.S. 63 for the switch.
“We’re hoping traffic is patient with us and everyone makes their way safely down the corridor,” Munck said.
Flagmen will direct traffic at side road connections to U.S. 63 from Route 163 to Log Providence Road.
Work on the southbound access ramps will begin immediately after the old lanes near Log Providence Road are closed. A temporary road will allow for access from Log Providence Road to the new U.S. 63 southbound lanes.
Also Wednesday, new J-turns will open north of Turkey Creek and north of Route 163. Median crossovers at Route 163 and Route AB will be permanently closed.
J-turns at both the Discovery Ridge interchange and Bonne Femme Creek opened Aug. 29. They replaced crossover intersections at Old Millers Road and South Rolling Hills Road.
The $9.8 million interchange project began in August 2011 and has been on schedule ever since.
With rain in the forecast, Munck said MoDOT can’t guarantee the switch Wednesday will proceed exactly as planned.
All northbound lanes on U.S. 63 will remain open during the transition.
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