Some motorists are ignoring highway improvements in Palmyra.
Is it confusion or bullheadedness that is causing some drivers in Palmyra to ignore over $1 million in improvements that the Missouri Department of Transportation paid to have implemented along U.S. 61?
Two rows of pylons are now in place to prevent motorists on County Road 402 from crossing U.S. 61 to reach Ross Street. Those deterrents aren’t stopping some drivers, according to Eddie Bogue, Palmyra police chief.
“Some people are still trying to use Ross Street, coming across from the county road. They’ll go the wrong way on the southbound turn lane and cut around it and do a little U-turn to get over to Ross Street even though pylons and barricades are there,” he said. “We’re currently working with MoDOT for some better signage to help educate the people that you can’t do that.”
Mayor Loren Graham has also noted that some old driving habits remain to be broken.
“I see people that are still pulling just directly out onto the highway and not using those acceleration lanes like they’re built for. They’re waiting until traffic passes and then pulling directly out instead of turning and getting on that acceleration lane,” he said.
Despite the fact not everyone is utilizing the improvements, Graham and Bogue are in agreement regarding the changes that have taken place where U.S. 61 meets Ross Street, Main Cross Street and Thompson Street.
“I think it will be a big improvement as far as safety goes,” said Graham.
“I think it is somewhat of an improvement any time that you can make the turning lanes and merges better,” said Bogue. “With the crossovers you’ve done an improvement right from the get-go, but it’s still going to be up to the motoring public to have good attention spans and to be careful on those two crossovers that still remain.”
The improvements included work on drainage and widening areas in the median and the west side of U.S 61 to accommodate new turn lanes at the intersections.
Also, the speed limit along U.S. 61 at Palmyra will be reduced this week from 65 to 55 mph approaching the northern city limits, starting just north of the Missouri 168 interchange to just north of Main Cross Street. The speed reduction, which was approved by MoDOT after conducting traffic and speed studies in the area, had been requested by the city and was a recommendation of a citizens advisory group.
“People coming into town typically were doing 65 (mph) or better and this at least gives them more of an opportunity to slow down while they’re approaching those crossovers,” said Bogue.
Neither Bogue or Graham have received much public feed back regarding the changes.
“I haven’t heard a word, I really haven’t. Nobody has really said anything,” said the mayor.
On Tuesday afternoon, a handful of people offered their opinions regarding the improvements.
“I think they’re nice,” said Wayne Wilson of Palmyra as he left Hardees. “I believe it will help.”
“I don’t like the design. Now you have to drive halfway across downtown to go northbound,” said Carl Meyer, a relative newcomer to Palmyra. “I’d also like to see them slow the speed limit down.”
A female shopper from Maywood, who declined to provide her name, is not thrilled with the changes.
“I think they’re an inconvenience,” she said. “I feel sorry for Shopko (Hometown) and C&R (super market). I’m sure business is hurting.”