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      US 63 set to open on Wednesday

      Around 11 Wednesday morning, MoDOT opened to traffic the new US 63 highway in Kirksville. "So far, everything has gone smoothly," said Assistant District Engineer Kevin James. "People are driving cautiously, which is good, and we've even had some drivers come down and turn around, just to check it out," he added.

      With the opening, Baltimore Street just south of MFA in Kirksville is closed, and will remain closed for up to two weeks. Due to this closure, motorists on Baltimore wishing to access US 63 should use Highways P, 11 or 6. Those coming from the north will continue on the new highway and exit at the intersections of Highways P, 11 or 6.

      James encourages drivers to continue to be cautious, especially at the intersections of Highways P, 11 and 6 at the new highway. "This is a change for drivers to access Kirksville, and we expect there to be some apprehension," he said.

      On the south end of Kirksville, drivers wanting to come into Kirksville will take what's become known as the "flyover", which has been open for about two weeks. Drivers heading north of Kirksville and not wanting to stop will continue on the new Highway 63.

      Lighted message boards and flaggers are stationed at each intersection to alert drivers to the changes, especially that they will need to stop before crossing or entering the new highway. "The key thing for drivers at these intersections to remember is that the new US 63 traffic does not stop," James said. "The intersections are well marked with stop signs and there are lights so night traffic can clearly see the intersections and signs," he continued.

      James said traffic engineers will be observing the signals along Baltimore at every intersection and retiming these signals immediately and as needed over the next several months.

      James reminds drivers to pay attention to the signs and be aware of the changes. Simulations of driving on the new highway are accessible online at, and anyone is welcome to call customer service at 1-888-275-6636 to get more information.---------------------------------------------------

      The new Alternate Route(US 63) has gone from a dream to a reality.

      On Monday, a celebration was held for the project nearly a decade in the making.

      A ribbon cutting ceremony was held by the Missouri Department of Transportation, the city of Kirksville and the Chamber of Commerce at the NEMO Fairgrounds on Monday morning.

      Craig Shorten parachuted in to kickoff the event.

      They keynote speaker for the event was MoDOT Chief Engineer Dave Nichols; other dignitaries included State Representative (R) Zachary Wyatt, Mayor of Kirksville Richard Detweiler, Adair County Commissioner Carson Adams, Iowa District Engineer Jim Armstrong and Highway 63 Corporation member Harriett Beard. MoDOT NE District Engineer Paula Gough emceed the event.

      The project is estimated at $30 million, and more than $7 million is coming from a sales tax passed by Kirksville residents back in April of 2008.

      MoDOT assistant District Engineer Kevin James says the opening of the road is a step in the right direction for the community.

      "It's a great day for MoDOT and the community as we celebrate the completion of the Route 63 project that has been talked about for a long time and today we are closer to having it completed with this celebration," James said.

      However, Representative Zachary Wyatt says there are still a number of concerns about the opening of the Alternate Route 63.

      "I have concerns of the safety that a lot of my constituents and myself have been questioning. Not having an overpass on Highway 6 and 11 concerns me. That is where our students are getting on the highway to get home from school and to just have a route with stop signs is very dangerous, Wyatt said.

      Wyatt has put together a US 63 Commission to discuss ways to make the new route safer. It will include Carol Kellum, Nate Walker, Jerry Caldwell, Becky Osbourn, Pat Williams, Troy Paino, Jack Macgruder, Harriet Bierd, Mike Labeth, Kadie Cambell Johnson, Bob Behnen, Randy Beherns and Andy Jackson.

      The new US 63 is scheduled to open on Wednesday October 26, 2011.

      To view the ceremony program and more information on US 63, click here.