WILLOW SPRINGS, Mo. — Keeping the interstate safe. It’s the goal of a big I-44 project that will upgrade one weigh station — and eventually close another.

Work is underway to build a bigger and better checkpoint for eastbound traffic on I-44 near the state line. The upgrade is part of a plan to centralize weigh station operations.

“We have a pre-pass system in the truck. The computer picks and chooses,” said John Klemme, St. Louis Trucker.

St. Louis truck driver John Klemme says one less weigh station could help with his time on the road.

“It does, but they serve their purpose,” said Klemme.

He points to everything from checking for illegal drugs to making sure trucks are safe for travel. And big changes are in store for what’s currently two weigh stations at Interstate 44, mile marker 2, starting with the eastbound operation.

“They’re upgrading this scale house to be easier to use for commercial vehicle officers and also more accommodating for the trucks coming through,” said MSHP Trooper Sam Carpenter.

A new building means detailed inspections will be protected from the elements. That upgrade on the eastbound side will lead to a permanent shutdown on the westbound side.

“So we will be getting rid of all of our outbound scales eventually statewide. We’re weighing trucks. Those trucks are only continuing in Missouri for another three miles and then they’re going to probably be stopped in most of our surrounding states immediately again to get weighed as they enter the next state,” said Carpenter.

But while the project will get rid of one weigh station, the overall goal is still the same.

“You’re driving a vehicle that weighs upwards of 80,000 pounds, you know the the inadequate brakes, the adequate tread on your tires, air leaks, the things that they find and truly could save a life down the road,” said Carpenter.

The westbound station will continue to operate until the new eastbound weigh station is up and running. That’s expected to take place sometime in January.