A major Fort Leonard Wood road improvement project will affect traffic on Missouri Avenue, beginning next month.

The three-phase project, along the avenue from the Main (North) Gate to General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital, is tentatively scheduled from June to October.

When the multi-million dollar project is complete, the post's main thoroughfare will have a new asphalt surface, new curb and water-drainage gutters and improvements to the intersection of Pulaski and Missouri avenues.

"We realize this work will be an inconvenience to motorists, but the end result will be better driving conditions due to improvements in the drainage, better traffic flow and an overall smoother drive," said Gary Roberts, chief of the Engineering Design Branch, Directorate of Public Works.

Every attempt will be made to have the contractors keep multiple lanes open during the morning and afternoon rush hours, Roberts said.

In addition, emphasis will be to keep on schedule, but the engineer, with nearly 40 years of experience, added words of caution.

"Construction project timelines are not an exact science and are always dependent on weather and other unknown factors," Roberts said. "We ask patience of motorists and remind them to slow down, follow posted signs, and drive safely through work areas."

The initial roadwork phase will be to construct curb and gutters between First and Gate streets and is anticipated to commence the first part of June.

"There is a problem with water running onto the streets, cutting ruts and washing gravel onto the road. Since the road lacks curbs, vehicles often drive off the paved surface, which creates more ruts," Roberts said. "Also, when there are heavy rains, motorists have complained about hydroplaning, due to the water build-up in some areas. That can be very dangerous."

Work on the second phase, in which Missouri Avenue will be resurfaced from the North Gate to GLWACH, can only begin only after the curbing and gutters have been added.

Roberts estimates a start time of August when removal of four inches of old and cracked asphalt and adding a fresh asphalt overlay of the same depth will begin.

"Our research indicates it has been 11 years, since the street was paved," Roberts said. "There is concrete under the surface. The road doesn't have many potholes, but the concrete joints have risen or the road sank to create a rather bumpy ride."

According to statistics, more than 28,600 incoming and outgoing vehicles transit Fort Leonard Wood on an average workday, by way of four access-control points.

The bulk of that traffic is on Missouri Avenue, according to the Directorate of Emergency Services that monitors the post's traffic patterns.

"We've known about issues on this road for some time," Roberts said. "We've tried different solutions, but this project was determined to be the best long-term fix."

Roberts said his team would seek to have the contractor avoid paving during lunch hours. "There will be the necessity for some lane closures, but they will avoid the high-traffic times," he added. "The contractor will be placing cones and warning signs."

The final portion of the project takes place where Pulaski Avenue intersects with Missouri Avenue. The end results will improve movements through the intersection, as well as increase safety, according to Roberts.

The intersection construction will hamper access to the North Express that houses Dunkin' Donuts and the Firestone Auto Care complex.

Traffic entering the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Noncommissioned Officers Academy quarters and parking area may also have some delays or detours.

"We will ask flexibility of our contractors, in order to avoid major inconveniencies," Roberts added. "However, when such complex work is going on, delays are unavoidable. In the end, Missouri Avenue will be better from the safety and access aspects and certainly the ride."