WEBSTER COUNTY, Mo. — A woman died in a crash Sunday when a train collided with her truck at a crossing east of Rogersville.
This makes the third fatal crash along Highway 60 in Webster County for the month of June. Officials say this proves the need for safety improvements along the highway and a $133 million project is already in the works.
Funding has already been approved for a four-mile stretch along Highway 60 between Fordland and Diggins. The county commissioners say building an interchange, removing several intersections, and adding an outer road is the only way to keep up with the growing traffic.
“The county is really growing, the population is growing, the traffic along 60 is really growing,” said Paul Ipock, Webster County Presiding Commissioner.
“And that particular rail line has become a very busy avenue,” said Stan Whitehurst, Webster County Clerk.
Officials say they realize it’s a dangerous 22 mile stretch with about 27 trains running along the highway every day. 36 side roads are crossing over the tracks as well.
“You mix all that and you’re creating opportunities for conflict,” said Whitehurst. “I think that we’ve been seeing that recently.”
“The whole corridor was dangerous,” said Ipock.
That is why a master plan was created last year to consolidate side roads that intersect with Highway 60. A new outer road will be built connecting to larger intersections or new interchanges. Whitehurst says funding for the first phase of the project has already been approved.
“If we built an outer road on the south side of the rail line, we could eliminate a lot of the rail crossings there, and so that’s why that scored well on that particular grant opportunity,” said Whitehurst. “And the next grant opportunity may have different priorities. We’ll just take it one piece at a time.”
The plan is to break ground on the first phase by late 2023 and finish up the following year. Funding is still needed to fully complete the plan.