LAMAR, MO.--- A new interchange south of Lamar will help drivers gain easier access to the highway. People traveling north and south on I-49 will now be able to exit directly onto 30th Street, making their travel time a lot shorter.
"Really going to be a big help, especially when we're open in the summer," said Cody Gregory, Heartland Horseshoeing School Instructor.
Cody Gregory is a Barton County resident and an instructor at Heartland Horseshoeing School just south of Lamar. He says the interchange could help boost business, making it easier to give directions.
"Obviously, the exit ramp is going to make it a lot easier for people to get here if they're wanting to stop in and look," said Gregory.
Work isn't 100% complete. Jim Conley with the Missouri Department of Transportation says workers will continue to cleanup the interchange for the next several weeks.
"We still have a little bit of work to do out there. We have some signs to put up, but yesterday the weather wasn't cooperating. It was really windy, we couldn't get the big signs up, but it is open to traffic now," said Jim Conley, MODOT Engineer.
The interchange cost about $1.6 million. It's money well spent, according to Conley, since it fills a long standing community need.
"This interchange was probably thought about years ago when 71 was built, because they had stock piles of dirt there to build an interchange, and that's been years and years ago," said Conley.
He says the five month project is a huge benefit to Barton County residents.
"Without, people on the south end of Lamar would have to drive all the way to Lamar and get on at the interchange at 160," said Conley.
For Gregory, the entrance and exit ramps will save him and his students time and travel.
"You would have to run three miles there and three miles back, that's 6 miles and then 12 miles everyday," said Gregory.
MODOT workers are already setting their sights on the next project. They are getting ready to build a crossover at 1st Street near Barton County Memorial Hospital. Employees hope to start construction next spring.
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