The Webster County Commission received word recently from U.S. Senator Roy Blunt’s office that a joint grant application submitted by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to the federal Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program appears to have been successful.
The grant asked for design and construction funds for substantial safety improvements along the U.S. Hwy 60 corridor in southern Webster County, including the construction of an outer road beginning at State Hwy Z near Fordland running to a new interchange at State Hwy A. The total cost estimate for the project, including design and construction, is $18,495,070.00.
The effort grew out of a two-year partnership involving BNSF Railway, MoDOT’s Multi-Modal (Railway Safety) Division, Webster County, and the Southwest Missouri Council of Governments (SMCOG) in developing a ‘U.S. Hwy 60 Corridor Study’. Over a dozen public meetings were held during that time, involving local municipalities, school districts, first responders, and the general public.
Funding of the project calls for nearly $10.4 million in federal grant dollars, along with contributions by other partners. “This is a game-changing investment in a safer future for southern Webster County”, said Presiding Commissioner Paul Ipock. “And it’s great to see recognition from MoDOT that this fast-growing rail and highway corridor plays a major role moving freight throughout the country. For our rural community, it is an important lifeline for our economy.”
At this time, there is no schedule for when design will be complete and construction might begin. However, Southern Commissioner Randy Owens was quick to express the County’s appreciation to the federal officials involved, as well as to all those who have played a hand in this important victory – including engineer Steve Prange and his team at Crawford Murphy & Tilly (CMT). “They’ve been great to work with”, he said.
Finally, Northern Commissioner Dale Fraker emphasized that he hopes this is the just the first step of many. “We are a fast-growing community, and we have to look to the future. And I believe good things are coming to Webster County.”