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      Highway 63 Roadwork near Ashland to begin

      The Missouri Department of Transportation will begin roadwork on several areas of Highway 63 the week of March 10, with the objective of making the road safer for drivers.

      The project includes bridge deck repairs on the Route M and Y overpass, commonly known as the Ashland overpass. Contractors will also add a J-turn on Route 63 just south of Peterson Lane, as well as removing median crossovers at Liberty and Peterson lanes.

      MODOT also plans to install roundabouts at the Ashland overpass.

      It is the elimination of crossovers, however, that had several people concerned Sunday.

      "A lot of J-turns are just as dangerous as they were before, it's a waste of money in my eyes," said drywall worker Andrew Dowell.

      Columbia resident Brett Evers frequently visits Ashland to visit his father. "I wouldn't care for it much, that I would have to go all the way back around to go back around," Evers said.

      There were concerns from other residents that the highway improvements will slow down EMS response times. However, MODOT engineer Patty Lemongelli said the difference won't be noticable.

      "There will probably be a chance in response in terms of how responses will be handled and the routes they will take, but there shouldn't be a huge impact to the actual response time," Lemongelli said. "The improvements there in the Ashland area on 63 are designed to improve traffic flow through the area as well as improve safety."

      Lemongelli said that from the beginning, her office has coordinated with EMS so that they know exactly where roadwork will take place and adjust accordingly. She also said some lane closures are likely, but that they won't happen during peak traffic.

      The roadwork is scheduled to last through the summer and will be finished by fall of 2014.