Missouri wins environmental points with new highway

News AASHTO Journal August 22, 2003
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The Missouri Department of Transportation met the challenge of relieving traffic congestion and preserving scenic mountain land

The Missouri Department of Transportation met the challenge of relieving traffic congestion and preserving scenic mountain landscapes with the completion of the Ozark Mountain Highroad, which opened this summer.


Missouri Rte. 465 was built to ease traffic congestion around the gaming and entertainment hub of Branson, while not disturbing the unique environmental features of the Ozark Mountains foothills. The Ozark Mountain Highroad runs eight miles.


"The Ozark Mountain Highroad combines great engineering and construction with sound environmental stewardship," said MoDOT Director Henry Hungerbeeler. "Not only was it built over some challenging terrain, it was done in such a way that it compliments the natural beauty of our scenic Ozark Mountains. It will move local residents and tourists around the Branson area effectively and offer them a scenic trip. In fact, I think the Ozark Mountain Highroad will become one of the nation's premier scenic highways."


Construction of the $53 million highway began in 1994 and connects U.S. 65 and Missouri 76. It was proposed by former Gov. John Ashcroft, who is now the U.S. Attorney General.


The News-Leader of Branson reported that MoDOT engineers used unique approaches to prevent the highway from overpowering the landscape, such as painting bridge girders to match vegetation and texturing concrete bases. MoDOT bought easements extending 660 ft on either side of the highway to discourage development and billboards and limited access to only three intersections.


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