MoDOT hosts open house for Peculiar interchange

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Last Thursday, May 9, MoDOT representatives gathered at Shull Elementary with maps, charts, and graphs all in-hand to establish clarity regarding the new Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) that will be built at the intersection of I-49 and 211th Street in Peculiar.
A DDI is an overpass that leads normal, two-sided traffic into the opposite lanes, moving from the right side of the road to the left in order to make for a quicker exit off of the bridge and onto the highway or interstate. The most common DDIs that local people are familiar with are the interchange at Highway 13 and I-44 in Springfield and the new DDI recently finished in South Kansas City at the intersection of Highway 150 and Botts Road.
A first-timer on a DDI typically feels uncomfortable since the common sense of the road (i.e. staying on the right side) is taken away. MoDOT encourages people not to fear, however, as the benefits of such an interchange help greatly with traffic flow. Jodie Puhr, a MoDOT representative, noted how the DDI removes the left turn lane that causes stacking at intersections and allows for free left movement. “It takes time,” Puhr said. “Change is hard.” And in this case, the change will be well worth it—not just for traffic flow, but for Peculiar residents as well.
Currently, the exits of North Cass Parkway and State Highway J are back-to-back along Interstate 49 and leave a gap of over five miles between the two. The land that spans this gap is full of a lot of country along with neighborhoods of Peculiar. A significant part of this area, though, is Raymore-Peculiar High School and Shull Elementary, which take up a large block of land between 211th Street and 205th Street. This new interchange at 211th will cut the distance from North Cass Parkway to the next exit to about 3.5 miles and the street will travel east, directly toward the entrance of the school, taking many Peculiar students away from traveling long distances on School Road.
The entire project for the DDI costs approximately $12 million and construction is anticipated to begin in two years. General obligation bonds that were passed in the April 2009 election, along with MoDOT’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, will finance the project. The MoDOT program is a “rolling five-year commitment describing how state tax funds will be budgeted for highway improvements,” according to their literature.
Currently, the concept has already been established based on a general study. The plans will still have to be laid out and finalized, along with a right-of-way acquisition, before construction can begin. As the project moves into the design phase, several elements will be analyzed like public comments, engineering and construction factors, impacts to the environment, and transportation planning. The process will take some time, but MoDOT and the City of Peculiar are committed to being transparent as they do what is best for the people of Peculiar and the rest of Cass County.

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