The announcement was made Wednesday that the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission awarded contracts for Southeast District projects during a recent meeting.
One of the projects awarded was a $1,315,647 contract to Pavement Solutions, LLC., to construct a J-Turn intersection on U.S. 67 at New Perrine Road in Farmington.
The earliest date for work to begin is July 30, with a projected completion date in November.
Brian Okenfuss is the area engineer for MoDOT’s Southeast District. He said the J-Turn intersection in Farmington is the first for the district. There are approximately 20 located throughout the state.
The project’s cost will be shared by MoDOT and the city of Farmington and was prompted by the construction of a facility near the proposed intersections, which is estimated to employ 700 employees. There has been no official announcement on the project, however, a visit to the website of Clayco – the the developer – notes the site as Centene Farmington, a call center development located in Farmington.
City officials believed the increased traffic flow would greatly increase the risk of accidents at the intersection, and officials are hoping to mitigate that risk with the institution of the J-turn intersection.
“The city of Farmington was out in front of this,” Okenfuss said. “They approached us and said they had some concerns with the amount of [anticipated] traffic.
In September, 2017, the Farmington City Council approved a resolution allowing City Administrator Greg Beavers to submit a grant application to the Missouri Department of Transportation Cost-Share Program for the purpose of funding construction of a J-Turn intersection at Perrine Road and U.S. Highway 67.
“(Farmington) was granted some money through that program, which what really allowed the project to move forward,” Okenfuss said.
The city will pay $200,000, with the grant from MoDOT in the amount of $1.2 million, along with $103,000 from the Southeast District of MoDOT.
Farmington City Administrator Greg Beavers began communications with the Missouri Department of Transportation in August of last year. The city contracted with engineering firm Crawford Bunte Brammeier to conduct a traffic study on the New Perrine/U.S. Highway 67 intersection.
“They collected the latest MoDOT traffic count data (at that intersection),” Beavers said after the study. “Then, they went down and did their own observation traffic counts.”
Beavers said the study showed the intersection works for the current traffic patterns, meeting the warrants on traffic.
“With the new employment we’re expecting, (the current intersection) will not (work) and it will lead to some crashes…and, in the worst-case, fatalities and some serious injuries,” Beavers said.
The consultant with the engineering firm recommend the J-turn option for this intersection.
“When we met with MoDOT with this recommendation, they concurred with that recommendation,” Beavers said. “That’s the best option to make it a safely, travelable intersection than what we have going on.”
The city received word in January this year of the awarding of the money for the project.
Members of the public came out to the Farmington Public Library in February to get a look at plans for the intersection on U.S. 67 at New Perrine Road, with MoDOT and city officials on hand to take questions.
According to information provided by MoDOT, J-turns are employed to reduce the number of traffic crashed at intersections on divided highways, where motorists must often cross multiple lanes of high-speed traffic to negotiate a turn.
“A typical four-lane divided highway with a crossover intersection has 42 potential conflict points,” a release from MoDOT explains. “Most of these conflict points are associated with severe crashes, such as T-bone accidents. By installing a J-turn intersection, conflict points can be reduced to as few as 24. In addition, these types of conflict points are associated with less severe crashes.”
According to a cited University of Missouri study, J-turns in Missouri resulted in a 54 percent reduction for fatal and disabling injury crashes and a 35 percent reduction in total crashes. In addition, right-angle crashes, which are typically the most severe, were shown to be reduced by 80 percent.
A J-turn removes the need to cross so many lanes of traffic, thereby reducing the opportunity for traffic collisions.
For example, if a motorist currently wishes to cross U.S. 67 from New Perrine Road to Overall Road, the motorist must cross both lanes of northbound traffic, cross the median as well as both lanes of southbound traffic.
After the implementation of the J-turn, a motorist in the same position would instead turn onto northbound US 67, drive a short distance, turn left to cross the median and join southbound traffic before turning right off the highway onto Overall Road.
At the median crossings, ample room is given for tractor trailers to negotiate the same turns as passenger vehicles without the risk of leaving the rear of a trailer in the highway while awaiting an opportunity to make the turn.
The median crossing at New Perrine Road will be reconfigured to the J-turn design, while the median crossing at Doubet Road will be removed.
The project also required the approval of the St. Francois County Commission, as a portion of the land where the J-turn will be constructed is owned by the county. The commission signed an agreement last month.
After work begins, MoDOT says that motorists can expect periodic single-lane closures and temporary closure of the median crossing at New Perrine Road.
“As always, in work zones, we ask for people to slow down and watch out for workers,” Okenfuss said. “We also ask they put their phones down and make sure their full attention is on work zone and driving.”
Daily Journal Reporter Jacob Scott provided information for this story