U.S. 60 future debated

Consultant Steve Prange, left, of Crawford, Murphy & Tilly goes over U.S. 60 traffic issues with Cpl. Chase Davis of the Seymour Police Department, right, at last week's meeting.

There are 22 miles of four-lane U.S. 60 in southern Webster County.

Along that corridor are 49 intersections — 25 of them partial access, 24 that are full access.

The Webster County Commission wants to create a plan for the future of the federal highway that currently carries 23,000 vehicles a day through Seymour.

Commissioners also want to develop a plan for the corridor’s railroads as 50 to 60 Burlington Northern Santa Fe trains travel through tracks adjacent to the highway each day.

Discussion of that plan came to Seymour City Hall last Tuesday, June 25, as Steve Prange, regional office manager for Crawford, Murphy & Tilly of Springfield, a consulting and engineering company hired by the county to complete a study of the corridor, led a public meeting that drew 58 guests and many questions over 1-1/2 hours.

Present were all three commissioners — Presiding Commissioner Paul Ipock, Randy Owens from the Southern District and Dale Fraker from the Northern District — two members of the Seymour Special Road District, Assistant District Engineer Andy Mueller from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), State Rep. Hannah Kelly and officials from the Southwest Missouri Council of Gov ernments.

After an introduction from Ipock, Prange began his presentation, laying out the statistics for Section 4 of the corridor, which goes from Seymour to the Wright County line at Cedar Gap. Section 1 is Rogersville, Section 2 is Fordland, while Section 3 is Diggins.

Prange noted along the U.S. 60 corridor, there are 36 different rail crossings — 24 of them public and 12 of them private.

At those crossings over the past 25 years, there have been 44 different “incidents,” resulting in 15 fatalities, 14 injuries and 15 non-injury incidents.

He also shared highway statistics in Section 4, noting that since 2012, there have been 192 automobile accidents at U.S. 60 crossings, resulting in 68 injuries and four fatalities.

“Five people have been killed at the railroad crossings in the Seymour area since 1990,” Prange added.

Statistics compiled this spring showed the traffic counts at all highway and rail crossings in Section 4.

The busiest crossing?

It’s at Highway K going south off U.S. 60, which has an average of 3,570 crossings a day.

Next is Highway C going north off U.S. 60 at 2,570.

The busiest rail crossing in Seymour?

It may surprise most.

It’s not the crossing on Main Street (Highway K). That crossing averages 830 cars a day.

But the crossing on Commercial Street has more than three times as many daily crossings at 2,631.

The rail crossing on Charles Street has a daily average of 1,006 per day.

Prange’s statistics showed that the crossing on U.S. 60 at Skyline Road averages 1,510 vehicles a day, while the joint highway and rail crossing at Oak Lawn Road at Seymour’s east edge averages 1,048.

The least-used crossing?

It’s at Lynch Drive off U.S. 60.

The daily average is 25 vehicles.

However, that number likely will increase significantly this year after Abby and Jacque Grabher opened their new business along the street.

Most questions from the crowd concerned the building of an overpass or overpasses in Seymour.

Prange wouldn’t speculate on whether any new overpasses would be built in Seymour in the near future.

However, he said the city’s future likely includes an overpass or overpasses.

“The ultimate goal is to have a limited-access highway (on U.S. 60),” Prange said. “That can’t happen without an overpass in Seymour.

“For MoDOT, I think the goal is to have a corridor like you now see on the James River Freeway in Springfield.

That’s ultimately what southern Webster County on U.S. 60 very well may look like.”

Prange was asked how long Seymour will wait for an overpass.

“It could take a very long time,” he said. “It may not occur until I’m retired, and I’m not retiring any time soon.”

Cpl. Chase Davis of the Seymour Police Department said the city’s two stoplights are dangerous.

“If we have to wait 20 more years, how many people are going to die at these two crossings?” he asked.

“I understand your frustration,” Prange responded. “The purpose of this study is to get input like yours ... to compile all of the statistics from all sides, then to take that information and create a plan for the county.”

Mueller said that MoDOT has plans to build an overpass at the U.S. 60 intersection at Highway 125 west of Rogersville in 2022.

“Are there considerations for our Amish neighbors who use the corridor on U.S. 60 between Highway A at Diggins and Seymour?” Seymour resident Bob Crump asked.

“It’s a factor,” Prange said. “It most certainly is a factor.

In (Section 4), many of the residents are Amish. It’s a safety factor for the Amish and for motorists.”

Prange added that once U.S. 60 becomes a full limitedaccess highway, Amish horse-drawn buggies wouldn’t be allowed on the shoulders.

“This is something that’s been delayed for so long that few people can even remember it,” Seymour business owner Jerry Kleier said. “MoDOT bought that property here in Seymour in the early 1970s for the overpass, as well as the right of ways, then absolutely nothing was done.

“Every city between Springfield and way east on U.S. 60 got an overpass. But not Seymour.”

“And that’s what we are studying,” Prange said. “We are looking at a long-term plan and solutions.”

Prange concluded the meeting by noting that the purpose of the meeting was to gather information. Handed out to all who attended was a questionnaire soliciting input and opinions from residents who live in Section 4 of the study. Those handouts are available at Seymour City Hall and at the Webster County Citizen office.

A second listening session arrives in early August.

It will be held at the Seymour Senior Citizens’ Center on the west side of the city square.

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