COLUMBIA — The new interchange on U.S. 63 that leads to Columbia Regional Airport is set to open to traffic Friday.
The overpass and ramps connected to the northbound and southbound lanes of the highway will open after a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1:30 p.m., said Sally Oxenhandler, a spokeswoman with the Missouri Department of Transportation.
This will complete a project that began in August 2011 to improve safety between the Columbia airport and the highway. For the past 15 months, drivers have followed a detour south of Route H to reach the airport.
In addition to the interchange, the $9.8 million project includes new southbound lanes that stretch between Route H and just north of Missouri 163.
The former southbound lanes have become an outer road that will eventually run from Route H to the Grindstone Parkway interchange. The outer road will be designated as Route 163, Oxenhandler said.
Four J-turns were built as part of the project, and the crossovers at Missouri 163, Deer Park, Old Millers and South Rolling Hills roads were closed. The J-turns require motorists to merge into the traffic flow and then make a U-turn to exit the highway.
About 24,100 drivers use U.S. 63 between Jefferson City and Columbia each day.