This morning an important section of Missouri State Route 109 in Wildwood caved by several inches, causing the pavement on the western side of the highway to slough off and down toward a steep embankment. Missouri Department of Transportation engineers are on-site at the moment to formulate a temporary plan to keep passengers safe.
The section of highway is located around the curve prior to reaching Turkey Track Road at the top of the hill and before Wildwood Y when traveling Route 109 northward.
Karen Yeomans, MoDOT area engineer, said they had been monitoring that patch of highway since last summer's work, but did not predict it would cave and break like it did Sunday or early Monday morning.
Yeomans said one of their engineers happened to drive down Route 109 on Saturday, and the problem had not occurred yet. "However, we got those heavy rains Friday night, and that's after a wet and icy winter," she said.
Editor's Note: I drove that stretch of the highway this morning at approximately 7 a.m., and noticed that the shoulder was cracked, darker in color and looked different, but I thought it was my imagination that it had not been there before. I thought I just hadn't spotted it yet. I also rationalized that it may be why MoDOT had scheduled a meeting for tomorrow to explain why they needed to shut down Highway 109 this summer. The reality is that the caving occurred sometime last night or very early this morning.
MoDOT crews now have decided to shift traffic slightly, starting south of Westridge Oaks Drive, to help protect the shoulder on the roadway. The roadway will be closed to one lane in each direction for this work this afternoon. Crews should be complete by about 5 p.m. today, but will be impacting evening rush hour traffic, said MoDOT spokesman Andrew Gates.
Crews are installing barrier on the southbound shoulder, narrowing lanes to 11-feet and shifting them slightly uphill as part of this emergency work, said Gates.
Crews will continue to monitor the roadway to ensure it remains safe.
Yeomans said they believe the problem was caused by rain steadily running down the eastern embankment and under the roadway. She said they also think they will have to dig down eight feet deep under the highway when they do fix it, to restabilize the area.