Orange and white striped barrels stretch as far as the eye can see on U.S. 63 south of Columbia. Road crews this week were patching the old concrete surface to level the road.
The real work is expected to begin May 1, when 10 miles of the worn, weathered southbound lanes of U.S. 63 will be resurfaced with 5¾ inches of asphalt from shoulder to shoulder.
Every day, about 12,000 vehicles use the roadway that connects Columbia to Jefferson City. Even though portions of one southbound lane have been closed in the middle of the day in preparation for the resurfacing, senior construction inspector Mike Dunavant of the Missouri Department of Transportation said both southbound lanes will remain open from 5:30 to 8 a.m. and 4:30 to 6 p.m. to accommodate morning and evening commutes.
“It’s more of a courtesy to traffic,” Dunavant said.
The $3.5 million project, from just north of Missouri 163 to Route A, is scheduled for completion in August. About 1,000 feet of northbound U.S. 63 at Ashland also will be resurfaced.
Chad Girard, area manager of APAC-Missouri Inc., the contractor for the project, said the resurfacing work will be done at night because of the high traffic flow during the day. Working during the night also allows more time to set up equipment, lay the asphalt and clean up.
Road crews are working between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. They have already completed the replacement of two cross-road drainage pipes underneath the highway.
In the works
Also planned are three new turning lanes, pipe replacement, pavement repair and restoration of the concrete bridge deck at the Ashland overpass.
Right-turn lanes will be added for southbound vehicles turning off U.S. 63 onto Missouri 163 and Log Providence Road. A left turn lane also is in the works to make it safer for southbound drivers to cross the median at the roadside park north of Ashland.
The existing turning lanes on U.S. 63 are shoulders, said project manager Jay Bestgen.
“We are actually providing an additional lane to get out of the main line of traffic,” said Bestgen, who is in charge of the design for this project.
63 needed most work
Bestgen said the Transportation Department chose this 10-mile stretch because it needed attention more than other locations. The sites that require repair are determined by how rough or cracked the surface is and whether it is prone to cause hydroplaning. Bestgen said accident rates are not a factor, although repaving will improve friction, creating a smoother ride.
“A smoother road will make a road last longer. It will cut down on road maintenance costs,” Bestgen said.
He expects that the resurfaced road will not need to be maintained for several years. The life span of asphalt can vary, he said, but should last about 20 years.