New London intersection to get safety upgrade

Rob Frese, traffic operations engineer with the Missouri Department of Transportation, talks with Dale Glascock during a recent public meeting about proposed safety improvements for U.S. 61 near New London. Dozens of local residents viewed graphics and talked with MoDOT officials about project details during the Tuesday meeting.
Posted: Jan. 14, 2020 7:00 pm

NEW LONDON, Mo. | Highway engineers are working on plans to improve the safety at a dangerous stretch of U.S. 61 where it intersects with Ralls County Route A.

The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission recently voted to fund improvements at the intersection where a number of serious and fatal crashes have occurred.

Missouri Department of Transportation Area Engineer Brian Untiedt said plans call for an interchange on the south end of New London to help drivers safely navigate into or out of town. A median U-turn also will be installed.

MoDOT engineers also are working on upgrades for the U.S. 61/Mo. 19 Interchange.

Contractors will have an opportunity to bid on the projects in March and work is expected to be complete this year.

Brian Schmidt, a driver interviewed by WGEM-TV, said the intersection where Route A and Fifth Street converge with U.S. 61 is dangerous.

“It's very distracting, because you have too many different directions that you have to look at the same time,” Schmidt said.

“There's not enough room in the middle of the intersection for everybody to get across at the same time.You have people coming in and going out at the same time and the speed limit is way too high going through there.”

Troopers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, aided by the Ralls County Sheriff's Department, did traffic stops along that section of U.S. 61 several times in 2019. Many of the drivers were cited for driving 85 mph or faster. Law enforcement officials say further traffic stops may be needed to remind drivers of the speed limit, but a safer highway design should help.



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Central American man charged with drug trafficking in Monroe County

A man was arrested on charges of possessing nearly one pound of cocaine following a routine traffic stop in Monroe County late Thursday.

Law enforcement sources estimate the street value of the alleged cocaine at between $75,000 and $100,000.

Ruben Eduardo Villeda Duarte, 26, a citizen of the Central American nation of Guatemala, charged by Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Talley Smith with trafficking drugs in the first degree, an “A” felony that carries a potential sentence of 10 to 30 years.

He was arraigned before Monroe County District Court Judge Michael Wilson on Friday morning, who denied bail.

According to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, Villeda Duarte was stopped by Chief Deputy Joe Colston while driving a 2004 Toyota Corolla on U.S. Highway 24, traveling westbound just east of Madison at an alleged speed of 72 mph, 12 mph above the posted 60 mph limit.