Officials Offer Route 65 Widening Update, Celebrate Construction Workers

Oct 11, 2016

Contractors, the projects they create and the economic impact those bring are on display this week in Greene County and throughout the state.

On Tuesday, officials gathered near the Route 65 bridge over Lake Springfield to celebrate BUILDMO Week 2016.

Leonard Toenjes, president of the Associated General Contractors of Missouri, speaks Tuesday near the Route 65 bridge over Lake Springfield.
Credit Scott Harvey / KSMU

Crews began this spring work to widen the highway from four to six lanes between Route 60 and the Greene/Christian County line. Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce President Matt Morrow says that every $1 invested in these types of transportation projects equals $4 in economic impact.

“That means that the construction project that we’re looking at and talking about today, as a $15 million plus project, actually has an economic impact in our area of more than $60 million,” said Morrow.

He adds that as transportation improves, so does recruiting businesses to the region. Morrow noted there are currently 13 companies from across the nation and world are considering expanding or relocating operations to Springfield.

The construction workers who build these projects and create the subsequent possibilities were praised Tuesday.

Morrow added, “The multipliers are significant for these jobs throughout our economy. The jobs can’t be shipped overseas, and the opportunities for people pursuing a career in construction have never been better as there are enormous demands.”

Leonard Toenjes, president of the Associated General Contractors of Missouri, said the average construction job in 2015 paid $55,000.

He said Missouri’s construction industry employs more than 116,000 people, and earned a ranking of fourth in the nation in one-month employment growth between July and August 2016.

Andy Mueller, assistant engineer with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) southwest district, says sections of Route 65 are more heavily traveled than Interstate 44. The six-lane widening project, which a completion date of fall 2017, is the result of a reauthorization of a federal highway bill. Beyond the current project, crews will continue the 65 expansion southward within the next five years. But Mueller says it needs to go further.  

“We were able to get a project in our next five year construction schedule to extend that six-laning down to the next interchange down to CC & NN, but the ultimate goal would be to take the six-laning expansion all the way south of the furthest [City of] Ozark interchange.”

Current work on the 65 widening includes rehab of the bridge over Lake Springfield. Crews will then replace the entire northbound bridge, and ramp improvements to Route 66 will be made.