A Rogersville intersection with a history of serious accidents is undergoing a long-awaited makeover.
The corner of Missouri 125 and US 60 just west of town has long been a strategically important intersection for the Rogersville area. Located half a mile south of Logan Rogersville High School and Middle School. But traffic lights that regularly back up traffic on both highways have proven dangerous. Due to increased traffic at the intersection, the Missouri Department of Transportation determined in 2018 that a controlled access interchange was the best option.
This intersection was once the site of a village called Cody, and is often the site of controversy. Local legend has it that around this time William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody was camping in the area after performing with his Wild West Show in Springfield. According to News-Leader archives, Cody's group had to camp outside the city because of unfavorable laws against Native Americans on the tour.
Since then, businesses and organizations in Cody have periodically had to vacate their properties for various improvements, moving buildings and entrances, or relocating altogether. In the 21st century, while drivers are avoiding the intersection of Highway 125 and Highway 60 altogether, business owners are nervous. It's been a hot topic since MoDOT broke ground on the $20.4 million interchange project last year, causing further delays.
What is the Department of Defense building at the intersection of US 60 and Missouri 125?
The goal of this project is to improve safety by removing the 125th and 60th traffic lights and constructing an interchange ramp that provides safe access to both freeways. When the interchange is completed in late 2024, both eastbound and westbound traffic from Highway 60 will pass through it. Northbound and southbound traffic from Highway 125 enters the intersection via two roundabouts.
This intersection is one of the highest crash severity rated intersections in MoDOT's Southwest District. In 2017, a minivan driver was killed on Highway 60 when his minivan collided with the back of a semitrailer that was slowing for a stoplight. According to MoDOT, most accidents on Highway 125 and Highway 60 occur as a result of traffic light backups.
“We've had a lot of crash data from this intersection over the years,” said MoDOT Project Supervisor Brad Gripka.
This traffic light was originally installed in 1995 to allow left-turn traffic from Highway 125 and Highway 60. At the time, Rogersville's population was about 1,000 people. That number rose to more than 4,400 in 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With traffic increasing as the town grows, the Department of Defense says regulated access to Highway 60 is the safest option. The project is designed with 20 years of future growth in mind.
The project is currently in its third of five phases, and more delays and detours are expected for Rogersville drivers. When Phase 4 of construction on the Highway 60 bridge begins in March, the intersection will be a right-hand turn only, with a detour at the Highway J and Farm Road 247 overpass. All other intersections between Highway J and Farm Road 247 will be closed at Highway 60 until the project is complete. When the fifth and final phase of ramp and roundabout construction begins in May, Highway 125 will be closed to all traffic through the intersection.
History of improvements and adjustments
Buffalo Bill's campground isn't the only history buried near the intersection. He already had a general store called Cody's there in 1886, which was in front of the Kum & Go gas station at the intersection. The original land was donated from a parcel of the farm owned by Sterling Smith's son, his W. B. Smith. Pioneer of Greene County. Note the early organizational minutes from Harmony Baptist Church, address Cody, Missouri.
A new church was dedicated in the same location in 1922, according to News-Leader archives. The church left its original location at the intersection in 1965 when Highway 60 improvement construction encroached on the church's land. That year, Highway 60 was widened into his four-lane divided highway. For the past 59 years, the congregation of Harmony Baptist Church has gathered in the building a quarter-mile south of its original location on Highway 125.
Soon, the old Smith Farm will be built under two new north-southbound northbound I-125 roundabouts and the eastbound and westbound I-60 bridges.
'It really took a toll': Construction's impact on Cody's business
With further delays and detours expected, the current management of Old Cody Village is adjusting day-to-day operations. Two of Cody's main businesses, Willow Green Acres and The Habit Coffee Company, saw sales decline as drivers avoided intersections.
“One way or another, we're going to get through this, but it's not going to be easy,” said Kevin Chapman, owner of Willow Green Acres Antique Mall and Nursery on the northeast corner of the intersection. Told. “For better or worse, we will be affected.”
Chapman has seen cash-and-carry sales plummet 30% in the past three months as drivers avoid backing up at intersections. He expects the numbers to get worse before they get better as more delays roll into the summer. That's not Chapman's only complaint about the project. He had to give up land on the north side of his property to build a new perimeter road connecting Highway 125 to Farm Road 243. The main entrance from Highway 60 was also permanently closed for ramp construction.
“Obviously it wasn't a situation where we had much say. It just happened to happen,” Chapman said. “We're working hard to do more of the second part of our business, which is landscape design and installation,” Chapman said. They don't have to come to us. ”
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Caroline Bogema sympathizes with Rogersville drivers and business owners who deal with delays of 20 minutes or more, but hopes to see improvements to the interchange. She and her business partner Jayma Strong co-own her Habit Coffee Company on the southwest corner of the intersection. As a drive-up operation in the Habit Plateau, the company looked to cater and delivery orders in the Rogersville and Springfield areas.
“People are afraid to pull over for fear of being stranded again,” she says. “She might have to wait five minutes just for coffee and breakfast, but she might be stuck at a traffic light for 10, 15, 20 minutes. This is really hurting our business. I am.”
Gripka said if everything goes according to plan, the interchange should be open by August, when school starts. The project will continue through November while MoDOT cleans the work site and completes the exchange.
“I understand. It's kind of hard to justify leaving 30 minutes early,” Bogema said. “But I'm also really excited about the new overpass and everything else. I think it's going to be incredible for us.”