120-Foot-Long Sinkhole In Mo. Highway

Traffic along the detours around a closed ramp in the Three Trails Crossing was heavy this morning but moving a little better than expected, a Missouri transportation official said. "It is busy, but we are cautiously optimistic," said Chris Redline, assistant district engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation. "We are very fortunate when it happened," Redline said. "Had it happened during the week, we would have had one really tough day." That allowed people to plan their morning commute. Traffic officials had an idea of what would be the problem areas, but they didn't know how the public would respond to the closure. "We provided a wide range of options and detours, but we knew all along that people would take routes that they thought they would be the fastest," Redline said. Traffic engineers were at various locations this morning, monitoring signals and making adjustments on the fly. Transportation officials will have debriefing meetings later today to discuss ways to improve traffic flow based on what they saw in the field this morning. Kevin Manning, senior traffic study specialist, was one of those tweaking the traffic flow by controlling the stop lights with a laptop inside his car at Interstate 435 and Bannister Road. Highway officials were giving priority to traffic exiting from northbound I-435 so that they could then go southbound on I-435. That created problems for traffic along westbound Bannister Road, which at one time was backed up past Hillcrest Road. Transportation officials had hoped traffic would travel further north to 87th Street, where they had a free-flowing u-turn to get northbound traffic onto southbound I-435. "This is going exactly the way we wanted minus the fact that we don't have the density of cars we wanted," Mark Stock, area engineer monitoring traffic at 87th Street and I-435. The priority given to the traffic exiting from the interstate was a safety issue to keep it from backing up onto the I-435.