COLUMBIA — Construction of the $7.9 million U.S. 63 interchange with Gans Road officially began Monday afternoon, bringing the promise of access to a biotech corridor in south Columbia.
The diamond interchange links U.S. 63, Gans Road, Ponderosa Drive and Lenoir Street.
At a ground-breaking ceremony for the project, U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., noted that the interchange would serve as an important entryway into Discovery Ridge, a 1,300-acre life science research park being built on the east side of Highway 63. Discovery Ridge, which already has ABC Laboratories and RADIL signed up, was promoted at the event as a link between MU’s research and its commercial applications.
Bond called the interchange a key piece in the puzzle of making Columbia part of a “biotechnology corridor” stretching from Kansas City to St. Louis.
Scott Charton, UM System’s communication director, echoed Bond’s sentiment saying, “(Discovery Ridge) is the whole reason for doing this,” referring to the interchange project.
Roger Schwartze, an engineer with the Missouri Department of Transportation, called the project an “extremely unusual” collaboration of five partners.
The U.S. government gave $4 million, MU donated 8.5 acres and the state Department of Transportation, the City of Columbia and private developers collaborated to fund the remaining construction costs.
The interchange is expected to be completed by late 2008.