MoDOT Looks To Increase Safety On I-70 By Adding Truck-Only Lane

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, trucks are involved in 28 percent of accidents and 48 percent of fatalities on Interstate 70.

Last week, I spoke with MoDOT project manager Bob Brendel and Federal Highway Administration public affairs spokeswoman Nancy Singer about a new project that would help to reduce these accidents and causalities. Read the story I wrote for KBIA below.


MoDOT is moving forward with its plans to create a truck only lane on Interstate 70.

The Federal Highway Administration gave its approval this week on the project that would create a median in the highway to separate trucks from cars. MoDOT project manager Bob Brendel says it would make the highway safer for drivers.

“It enhances safety, reduces congestion and provides for future efficiency in freight flows that allow mid-west companies and farmers to compete better in a global economy,” Brendel says.

Brendel says money is the biggest hurdle. The project is not funded at this time, but the price tag is estimated at $4 billion. MoDOT says they’re applying for $200 million in federal stimulus money to create a test lane. The test lane would cover a 30-mile stretch in Cooper and Saline counties Brendel says. If completed, the truck lane would be the first of its kind in the country.


Brendel pointed out that as cars become more fuel efficient and smaller, and as trucks become bigger, the causalities of accidents are on an increase. After conducting a 2006 environmental study and checking out other options, MoDOT opted that rebuilding the highway would be their best alternative.

As I spoke to Brendel, I also wondered how trucks would be entering their lane safety. He did say they have to cross car traffic to get into their lane, but the slip ramps would be lengthened to provide them with easier movement around other vehicles.

MoDOT measured the amount of truck traffic getting off and on different interchanges along I-70. They found US 65, US 63, and US 54 have heavy truck movement and decided that separate interchanges would be needed for trucks only.

Brendel said they are keeping an eye out on four other interchanges to see if truck traffic goes up and if so, they would consider adding separate interchanges at these locations as well.

The application for the $200 million stimulus money is due this fall and MoDOT is expected to hear from USDOT in January 2010. Brendel said he feels the test strip will demonstrate the benefits and create momentum to get funding for the rest of the project to be built. If they are granted the money, Brendel said they will work hard and fast to get the test strip done. Designers constructed I-70 50 years ago and it has since outlived its design.

I felt covering this story was important because of course people care about where our stimulus money is going and also because drivers have complained about the stop and go traffic on I-70 along with feeling uncomfortable maneuvering around large trucks. For this story, I would have loved to talk to truck drivers to see how they felt about this project, but didn't have the time. The fact that this would be the first time in our country that a highway has constructed a truck only lane fascinated me.

If this story has sparked your interest, MoDOT is conducing an online public meeting through Sept. 26, where you can raise your voice and speak out.


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