Hwy. 61, Industrial River Road Intersection Rises To Top Of County’s Transportation Priority List

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.”

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