The Warren County Commission approved money for a road project to replace a railroad crossing near the site of the new American Food Groups plant in Wright City, Missouri.
The Warren County Commission approved a bid from Karrenbrock Construction on Aug. 29 for upgrades to Veterans Memorial Parkway, Archer Road and Heartland Drive.
The bid for the project is more than $1 million, and includes using concrete rather than asphalt to complete the road work. The project also requires MoDOT’s approval.
Money for the project is coming from grants the county received as part of the AFG project, according to Steve Etcher, the economic development consultant for the Greater Warren County Economic Development Council.
The current intersection of Veterans Memorial Parkway and Archer Road is just north of the railroad tracks that separate Veterans Memorial Parkway from the new American Food Groups beef processing plant between Foristell and Wright City.
That railroad crossing has been the site of two accidents involving trains. The current tracks have no warning lights or safety arms to warn drivers when a train is approaching.
The first accident occurred at 10 a.m. Dec. 31 when a train struck a dump truck trying to cross the tracks.There were no serious injuries, but the crash did cause the truck to roll onto its side.
The second was a fatal accident that occurred just before noon April 23 when a train struck a pickup truck, killing its 80-year-old driver.
A third accident occurred June 30 at the tracks immediately to the east of the Archer Road crossing, seriously injuring the driver of a tractor-trailer.
Both crossings have had flaggers since the June 30 accident to prevent more accidents.
The new project will create a new crossing with safety gates, Etcher said.
The project will also widen Veterans Memorial Parkway at the intersection.
“What they will do is give us a dedicated turn lane in the middle so we’re not holding up traffic and it will give us acceleration and deceleration to make sure we get trucks in and out of the interchange,” Etcher said.
The crossing will also be used by workers accessing the construction site.
Etcher is hopeful the project can begin in mid September.
“The sooner we can build the new crossing, the safer that whole area becomes,” he said. “So we’d like to get it done this year.”
When the project is complete, the current Archer Road would be abandoned. The project will also allow construction traffic to stop using the crossing to the east.
“That’s a field cross that they’ve got authorization to use for construction,” Etcher said. “It will be eliminated once this one is OK.”
Etcher said money for the project is coming from grants the county received as part of the AFG project.
Etcher also said he didn’t anticipate any issues with the unrelated Interstate 70 expansion.
“As we designed it, we had to stay within the constraints of a right away so it didn’t interfere with any future expansion,” he said. “So they should work seamlessly together.”
About the author: Jason Koch is the editor of The Warren County Record, and covers local news and government for the newspaper. He has won multiple awards from both the Indiana and Illinois APME and from the Illinois Press Association. He can be reached at 636-456-6397 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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