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Southwest Missouri News-Joplin

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by Carol Harris, Branson area, and Mary Engler-Guccione, Joplin area

Later this year, construction of the first leg of the Range Line Bypass is expected to begin.

The plan is to build the four-lane expressway from Interstate 44 to U.S. Business Route 71 at Carterville over several years. The 5.8-mile project has an estimated cost of $32 million.

The state plans to first build a four-lane stretch from the Interstate 44-U.S. 71 interchange north to East 20th Street, and a two-lane stretch of the highway from East 20th Street north to East Seventh Street. All of the right of way required to build what ultimately will be a four-lane highway from East Seventh Street to the interstate was acquired in 1997.

The city of Joplin and Jasper County are contributing $1 million each toward construction of the two-lane segment from East 20th Street to East Seventh Street. At the same time, the Missouri Department of Transportation plans to spend an estimated $2.2 million to complete the Interstate 44-U.S. 71 interchange and extend the four lanes to East 20th Street.

The projects are to start in the fall of this year and will be completed by the fall of 1999.

Future construction would widen the segment between East 20th and East Seventh from two lanes to four lanes. The next phase would be construction of a two-lane highway from East Seventh north to Carterville. A second two-lane highway would be constructed to complete the project.

The bypass is designed to give through traffic a high-speed alternative around Joplin and Webb City to alleviate some of the traffic congestion on Range Line. It also will provide access to Interstate 44 and U.S. 71 from Seventh Street, Newman Road and Zora Street, east of Range Line.

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