Road work to start June 24 at the Route 63/Hinton Road intersection

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 | 7:43 p.m. CDT; updated 1:28 p.m. CDT, Thursday, June 19, 2014

COLUMBIA — Starting Tuesday, construction will cause a series of lane closures at the intersection of U.S. 63 and Hinton Road/Calvert Hill Road.

According to a release by the Missouri Department of Transportation, construction is estimated to take approximately 65 days, finishing around the end of August. MoDOT will keep one lane open in both directions during the course of the project. 

Over the past decade there have been approximately 53 crashes at the intersection, according to the release. The planned improvements are designed to reduce that number by minimizing the number of points vehicles have the potential to collide.

To do this, offset left-turn lanes will be introduced to U.S. 63 both northbound and southbound. This means the turning lanes will be separated from the main lanes, and their placement will improve the driver's ability to see oncoming traffic when making a turn. An offset right-turn lane will also be added in the southbound direction of U.S. 63. 

Acceleration and deceleration lanes will also be added in addition to a system of modified J-turns at the intersection.

According to previous Missourian reporting, J-turns, which are relatively new to Missouri, have been shown to make crossing to the far side of a divided highway much safer. Results of an MU study, funded by MoDOT, proved supporting statistics on safety.

According to the study, injury-causing accidents have been reduced by nearly 54 percent in areas where J-turns were introduced. The overall rate of vehicular collisions in these locations was reduced by a little more than a third, and the number of fatal crashes declined by 100 percent.

Modified J-turns, such as the ones that will be implemented, have the advantage of allowing drivers to make a left turn by first making a right-hand turn. Drivers then merge into the left lane, crossing the median of a divided highway to enter traffic and proceed in the intended direction. This eliminates the driver's need to cross fast-moving lanes of traffic moving in opposite directions. 

APAC Missouri is contracting the $1.4 million project, the release said.

At the intersection of U.S. 63 and Hinton Road/Calvert Hill Road, MoDOT will introduce an offset right-turn lane and left-turn, acceleration and deceleration lanes as well as modified J-turns. These eliminate the need for driver's entering the highway from the road to cross fast-moving lanes of traffic moving in opposite directions, allowing them to take a right turn and eventually merge left to cross the median.

Supervising editor is Mary Ryan.

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John Schultz June 18, 2014 | 11:02 p.m.

Geeze, I'm so happy that I take the Prathersville Road exit to cut over to my house instead of Hinton Road as I used to the rare times I am on 63. I guess I'll probably make the scenic drive down VV to Dripping Springs Church Road the rare times I need to head north on 63 from my house.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith June 19, 2014 | 6:37 a.m.

@ John Schultz:

1- This "J" business may reduce accidents, but it appears to be beyond our pay grade. After all, we're only engineers. :)

2- Apparently this configuration has yet to catch on here in Iowa (or else I have yet to encounter it). On the other hand, here in Iowa Adam may legally marry either Eve or Steve, something Missouri has yet to experience. Progress is wonderful, isn't it?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz June 19, 2014 | 11:17 a.m.

My main issue is that MODOT is spending money on intersections like this, which may prevent a few accidents, instead of getting more bang for the buck on larger projects. They talk about how their revenue is dropping, well make better use of it in the meantime!

I make the occasional drive north on 63 to Moberly and such, and there are several intersections that may not have quite the traffic of Hinton/Calvert Hill, but won't be "fixed" with J turns. I've seen accidents at those intersections, and those will continue to occur occasionally. I've been driving through that intersection since 1998 when I bought my house, and all it really takes is paying attention to make it through safely.

Regarding Iowa, I wish Columbia would talk to the DOT folks up there and learn how to really build roundabouts. I used to work for a company based in Ames and there is a really well-built (and properly sized) roundabout coming in to Ottumwa I believe that puts the ones in Columbia to shame. I saw a semi make it through and he had plenty of room to navigate without having to get up on the apron surrounding the center of the roundabout.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith June 19, 2014 | 4:36 p.m.

@ John Schultz:

I am well familiar with the roundabout you cite. I used to go through it when visiting my family here in Iowa; now I do the same when visiting family or friends in Mid-Missouri.

Several roundabouts in Columbia violate the first rule for constructing roundabouts: that the circumference be large enough to accommodate the normal turning radius of the longest vehicle expected to go through the roundabout.

How can you spot that problem? You don't need to wait until a school bus or semi-trailer truck comes along. Just take a close look at both the outside and inside curbs: if there's a lot of black residue (tire rubber) it's a safe bet the circumference was not what it should have been.

Working in Latin America and Egypt I have for years associated roundabouts mainly with "emerging" countries, where they are endemic at major intersections. The reason, their engineers claim, may surprise Americans.

Modern traffic lights are (for less advanced countries) expensive, imported, and require a fair degree of maintenance (including changes in timing); Portland cement* (the only active ingredient in concrete) is made in even the poorest of countries, and labor (to construct the roundabouts) is relatively cheap.

I have vivid memories of certain Latin American roundabouts: all male passengers that were riding on a city bus in Monterrey, Mexico filing out of the bus to PUSH the broken down bus out of a roundabout, in 100+F degree heat.

But my personal favorite was a roundabout located in Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela. The circle was wide enough to accommodate two lanes of circulating traffic, including some truly BIG-ARSED semi-trailer trucks. There were either insufficient drains or clogged drains, and there was a tropical downpour every afternoon (ain't that far from the Equator). Ever try dicing it up with a "semi" while simultaneously swimming in a man-made concrete pool?

*-Hydraulic setting cements, made from naturally occurring minerals, are CERAMICS.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz June 19, 2014 | 9:47 p.m.

Yep, I heard a similar complaint after the roundabout at Rangeline and Route VV near my house was built. My uncle retired from the university and drove dump trucks for a couple years thereafter and talked about the apron around the center of the roundabout chewing up the outside edge of the left tires. I'm curious how the fire trucks from the station on Prathersville Road navigate that roundabout when they are dispatched in that direction?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith June 20, 2014 | 6:18 a.m.

@ John Schultz (again):

Maybe you and I are the only ones posting or reading posts on this topic, but I want to make an interesting point regarding cement (used as the active ingredient in structural concretes). As you might expect, in this country we produce and consume large amounts of cement, both "Portland" and refractory (the latter for high temperature and/or certain chemical uses; it's calcium aluminate-based rather than calcium silicate-based).

My point is WHO OWNS much of our domestic manufacturing facilities. Folks from Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Japan.

I can remember when that WASN'T so. What happened? Our "bean counters" and those on Wall Street decided the ROI for cement manufacturing wasn't sufficient to suit them, so foreign ownership ensued.

It's interesting that these foreign owners are satisfied with the ROI; they look for steady LONG TERM returns. After all, cement, like glass and certain other ceramics, is something there will be a continuing demand for.

BTW, unless there's been some change, the Swiss connection is a division of the same well-known firm that sells candy bars, cocoa and other "food" items. Careful, next time you bite into one of their candy bars! :)

PS: A significant minority of the bricks (used for home and commercial construction) produced in this country come from factories having Canadian ownership. Same philosophy for ROI. At one time the chief ceramic engineer for Canada Brick Ltd. (he's since deceased) and I were buddies.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams June 20, 2014 | 10:53 a.m.

Ellis/John......No, I'm reading this stuff, too. Good insights. But, when it comes to roundabouts, I have only one comment:

"Big Ben....Parliament!"

(Report Comment)

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