The Missouri Department of Transportation is moving forward with a $15.8 million project to add a third lane on both eastbound and westbound Interstate 70 at Mineola Hill in Montgomery County.

The project was funded by a federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant, which also includes the planned replacement of I-70’s Missouri River Bridge near Rocheport. It will be constructed by The ESS Team, consisting of Columbia’s Emery Sapp & Sons as the primary contractor and Bartlett & West of Jefferson City, who did the design work.

Development of the project began in November 2019, when MoDOT issued a request for qualifications for a design-build project. Three teams were shortlisted in December, and The ESS Team was chosen in April.

“We’re proud to have been selected to build the new lanes and look forward to a good working relationship with the team and the region,” said Matt Oesch, project manager for The ESS Team. “We’re committed to building a quality project at a good value as quickly as possible.”

The climbing lanes are being added to alleviate traffic congestion that can happen when semitrailers try to pass each other while coming up steep hills out of the Loutre River valley near Danville, Missouri. The addition of the third lanes will allow passenger vehicles to move at their normal speed without being slowed down by the semitrailers.

“If you find yourself behind one of the tractor trailers, you’ll notice that there is a significant reduction in their speed,” MoDOT project director Brandi Baldwin said. “It can be frustrating for some, but also people could make bad decisions about passing at wrong times, so this will help us improve the safety in the area.”

Emery Sapp & Sons Vice President Chip Jones said the project will be broken into five segments, four of which will be done by the end of this year.

In addition to the third lanes, the work will involve eliminating overflow bridges on westbound and eastbound I-70 and replacing them with concrete boxes, as well as replacing the eastbound Loutre River bridge. The bridge replacement should be done by August 2021, Jones said.

The work will begin next week, as crews set up traffic control and devices to control erosion.

  • General Assignment reporter, summer 2020. Studying arts and culture journalism. Contact me at

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