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A Columbia contracting company has been hired to expand lanes on Interstate 70 at Mineola Hill to help improve traffic flow and increase safety.

Emery Sapp & Sons, based in Columbia, is expected to have completed the adding of a third lane to both eastbound and westbound sides of I-70 by the end of November 2021.

Mineola Hill is about 45 miles east of Columbia, near Graham Cave State Park. Trucks trying to pass each other climbing the hill are known to slow traffic moving through the area. 

The project was made possible by a federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant that includes the rebuilding of the Missouri River Bridge at Rocheport.

In a news release, the Missouri Department of Transportation said that it wants to increase space for truck climbing lanes to allow for safer and easier traffic flow as well as replace deficient bridge structures in the area.

The budget of $15.8 million encompasses the design, expansion, improvement and implementation of long-term use, according to the release.

There is a large rock formation in the median of the interstate at Mineola Hill known as Slave Rock, believed by some as possibly having a role in Missouri's slave era. Though the rock isn't recorded by the State Historic Society as a historical site, MoDOT has said that it will set up a perimeter around the rock and make sure that it is unaffected by construction because of its local significance.  

Construction is set to begin in July.

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