(From the Missouri Department of Transportation)
The Dec. 12 dedication in Joplin of the new Interstate 49 between Kansas City and Pineville will recognize the economic impact and safety benefits the interstate highway is expected to bring to Missouri, the Missouri Department of Transportation said.
The ceremony, in the gym at Joplin East Middle School, begins at 12 noon Wednesday, Dec. 12. The middle school is located at 7501 E. 26th Street in the Crossroads Industrial Park.
National and state dignitaries are expected to take part in the event, including Missouri U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and Victor Mendez, head of the Federal Highway Administration in Washington, D.C.
Out on the highway that day, I-49 signs already put up along U.S. 71 will be uncovered or turned to face traffic, with crews working in every county -- McDonald, Newton, Jasper, Barton, Vernon, Bates, Cass and Jackson.
Signs along I-49 will still carry the U.S. 71 shield. That's because U.S. 71 in Missouri has not been relocated and is still part of the national U.S. 71 corridor that also runs through Iowa and Minnesota to the north and through Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana to the south.
Work to upgrade U.S. 71 to interstate standards has been under way for many years along the highway's 185 miles between Kansas City and Pineville. The road was four-laned where it had been only two lanes wide and more interchanges, overpasses and outer roads were built along four-lane segments. All at-grade intersections were eliminated.