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Seneca residents express concern on lack of funds to improve deadly intersection

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Residents in Seneca, MO express concern regarding the lack of funding available from the Missouri Department of Transportation for improvements to a deadly intersection of two state highways within city limits.

Seneca officials say the intersection of Highway 43 and Highway 60 averages at least one crash a month, and is where more than 10 fatalities have occurred within the past couple decades.

"This is the most dangerous one in Seneca," said Brad Hembree, Seneca resident.

"It is scary," said Shannon Phillips, Newton County resident. "It's very scary."

Officials say due to the 60 mph speed limit, crashes are severe.

"We do not have fender benders at this intersection," said Chief James Altic, Seneca Police Department. "If we go up there, usually somebody is going to the hospital."

A recent study conducted by MoDOT recommends the installation of a roundabout, but MoDOT officials say it is not an option at this time.

"We just don't have the funds for it," said Steven Campbell, construction and materials engineer for MoDOT. "If we had the funds for it, there is always the opportunity for that project to go through a prioritization process. It could very well be added, but at this point, we don't have the ability to cost share. We are simply in a maintenance mode only."

City officials say installing the roundabout recommended by the study would cost an estimated $1 million, which the city simply cannot afford.

Officials are also working to lower the speed limit, which can only be so low due to the 65 mph speed limit less than a mile down the road across the Oklahoma state line.

"They could drop it 5 mph," Altic said. "At that speed, that's not much. We'll take what we can get."

"Dropping the speed limit would help a bunch," said James Fellows, Seneca resident.

Should MoDOT have the funding in the future, officials hope the intersection project will be prioritized.

"Our lives down here are just as important as anybody else's," Altic said.

Seneca officials say the traffic volume at the intersection continues to increase due to a number of casinos located along Highway 60.
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