A local portion of Interstate 44 is getting much more than a facelift. Road replacement is progressing on the roadway near for the major Antire Road project being handled by Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).
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Rumble strips now caution drivers going both east and west to slow down, and the Antire Road exit is officially closed for the westbound ramp. Drivers still can use the exit/ramp on the eastbound side at Antire Road to access the Endangered Wolf Center, however to leave the area and head back westbound toward Eureka, must drive to the Highway 141 exit and pass under I-44 to turn around.
I-44 is one of five interstates built to bypass U.S. Route 66; I-44 covers the section between St. Louis and Oklahoma City. Transportation sources indicate the entire length of I-44 east of Springfield, MO, was once U.S. 66, which was upgraded from two to four lanes from 1949 to 1955.
MoDOT records state that when the interstate system was first built, its designers planned to build roads that would have a 20- to 25-year lifespan. The interstates were designed to be evolving transportation facilities that would need regular replacement and expansion if they were to continue to serve the economic and military needs they were created to fulfill, according to MoDOT's website.
The Eureka area strip of I-44 now being replaced currently supports 71,000 vehicles per day.