CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, Mo. (KFVS) - Construction of the Diverging Diamond Interchange will include a series of lane reductions on Interstate 55 throughout March.
The interchange is at I-55 and Route 61 (mile marker 99) between Cape Girardeau and Jackson.
Weather permitting, the following work will take place on Route 61 near Cape Girardeau County Park North:
- I-55 - Southbound traffic will be shifted to use the northbound lanes in the vicinity of Exit 99 interchange. A 10-foot width restriction will be in place
- Exit 99 Interchange ramps - the Exit 99 northbound I-55 on ramp and southbound I-55 off ramp will be closed to traffic.
- Northbound Rte. 61 will be reduced to one lane as construction crews install a temporary crossover north of Boulder Crest Drive to North Cape County Park Drive on Wednesday, March 18 through Saturday, March 28 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily
- Southbound Route 61 will be reduced to one lane as construction crews install a temporary signal at North Cape County Park entrance. The lane closure will extend from Veterans Memorial Drive to Boulder Crest Drive. Work will take place on Wednesday, March 18 through Saturday, March 28 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Weather permitting, the following work will take place on I-55 at Exit 99:
- Various lane closures, with a 10-foot width restriction, will take place on northbound I-55 from Monday, March 2 through Friday, April 3 to begin construction for the crossover. These closures will be in place for 24 hours.
The work zones will be marked with signs.
Seth Bollinger, a senior project inspector for MoDOT, said these lane closures will be in place to allow crews to strengthen the shoulders and lengthen the acceleration ramps.
He called this preliminary work that will eventually allow crews to replace both the north and southbound bridges, as well as create a diverging diamond interchange.
In this first stage of construction, Bollinger said there is no need to find an alternate route.
“The biggest impact right now is just having a little extra time," Bollinger said. "...But we’re just asking everyone to be patient. Give a little extra time. We know there will be a little bit of backups at certain times of the day.”
The entire project is set to take about a year and nine months to complete.
Bollinger said weather and space constraints are the project’s biggest complications.
“One of them is a very compressed work area trying to do the bridges and the diversion diamond plus have traffic going on 55 and 61 so that’s going to be one of our kind of constraints," Bollinger said.
As the project moves forward, drivers can expect to see more changes to the traffic flow.
By mid-April, construction crews will begin work on tearing down the southbound bridge, replacing the southbound bridge and constructing the diverging diamond interchange.
Crews will start work to replace the northbound bridge by the beginning of 2021.
Drivers are urged to use extreme caution while traveling near the area.
“Be alert," Bollinger said. "One of the main things that we always try to focus on and this isn’t just coming through the work zone but that’s just day-to-day driving is to buckle up and put phones down. That’s the main thing and be alert. We want everyone to get through safely. Not just the public but also the workers in the work area.”