Ste. Genevieve County representatives at the quarterly Southeast Missouri Transportation Advisory Committee meeting on August 21 found that the county’s No. 1 priority for road work was already “in the works,” according to Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) personnel.

It was therefore decided to change the county’s top priority to adding a turn lane at Highway 61 and Industrial River Road.

Placing shoulders on Route M from Route J to Highway 61 had been decided on by the County Commission as the No. 1 goal, based on the feasibility of getting MoDOT to complete it.

When Ste. Genevieve County’s turn came to make a pitch for its top priorities last week, Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson had asked Second District County Commissioner Joe Gettinger to talk about the need for shoulders on Route M when Brian Okenfuss, area engineer for MoDOT, interrupted.

“Joe, I may steal your thunder and cut you off,” Okenfuss said, “but shoulders for M is in the sticks [already being planned as a project].”

“It is in the sticks?” Gettinger replied, “Good deal.”

He stressed why it was so badly needed.

“M road, I think, should have been done a long time ago,” Gettinger said. “When we have flooding, Highway 61’s closed; you know that. When 61’s closed, it’s a nightmare. We’ve got every Beelman’s truck that runs and every trucker that goes out of Mississippi Lime and goes to Illinois goes out M Road." ...

Going into the meeting, the county had a stoplight at Interstate 55 and Highway 32 as its second priority. That project also was discussed.

“Highway 55 and 32 is a messed-up intersection,” Nelson then said. “All the traffic on 32 and 55 — in a quarter of a mile going west, there’s a total of six roads turning onto 32, coming east, there’s five roads. When people get off 55, they think that stop sign doesn’t exist.

“I’m not saying a regular light would solve the problem, but it would help. We’ve been applying for this for about nine or 10 years, now. I know it’s expensive, but there are a lot of accidents right there. A year, year and a half ago there was another death at that intersection [at] A road and 32.”