SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – If you’re driving down James River Freeway through the widening project, you’ve most likely noticed a police officer stationed in the median.

According to Springfield Police, that patrol car is not a part of their regular traffic enforcement.

“MoDOT has hired overtime officers to assist with that work zone enforcement, just to remind people to slow down as they’re going through that work zone, to keep those construction workers who are working on that area safe,” said Cris Swaters, the public information officer for SPD.

The James River widening project officially began in January of 2023. MoDOT requested officers sit in the construction zone about a month and a half ago.

“We noticed that speeds were picking up in the work zone,” said Brad Gripka, the resident engineer for MoDOT in Springfield. “So we wanted to have that extra presence over the last month.”

Joyce Vogt drives Highway 60 every day. She says she notices drivers slamming on their brakes once they see the police lights.

“Everybody starts slowing way down, and sometimes it’s kind of hectic and it gets kind of congested there, but you just adjust,” Vogt said.

Since there has been a police presence at the project site, MoDOT says workers feel safer.

“It is very effective in our work zones,” Gripka said. “Having those red and blue lights, because people are so used to pulling over, moving over to the left lane or right lane away from where the law enforcement is.”