Bridge construction near Gainesville square may cause traffic concerns during Hootin an Hollarin

This photo shows the rather tight left turn motorists headed to Gainesville may have to make if they’re coming from Highway 160 east of the square onto Hillside Drive and then onto Main Street. This route, which might pose problems for those driving RVs or pulling long trailers, will likely be a popular way into town during Hootin an Hollarin because of the ongoing construction on the Barney Douglas Bridge on Highway 160 over Lick Creek just east of the square. An alternative would be to take Hillside Drive from Highway 181, about a quarter mile north of Highway 160, and travel to the Main Street intersection from the other direction.

Construction crews will likely still be working on the Barney Douglas Memorial Bridge, just east of the Gainesville square on Highway 160, on Thursday and Friday during Hootin an Hollarin. And while the work will stop for the weekend, the one-lane traffic over the bridge and the closure of the Third Street entrance to the square from Highway 160 will continue throughout the festival.

Missouri Department of Transportation resident engineer Audie Pulliam said construction on the bridge is running behind schedule; it was originally expected to be completed at the end of August. 

“Once traffic was switched [to the eastbound lane], we identified significantly more repairs to the bridge deck than were expected,” Pulliam said. The crews are continuing to work to complete bridge deck repairs, expansion joint reconstruction and a new barrier wall, he said. 

That means traffic coming and going to Hootin an Hollarin will likely be impacted and may have to flow through the two traffic lights on either end of the bridge that regulate one-lane traffic. Arriving Hootin an Hollarin vendors who usually use the Third Street entrance from Highway 160 to get to the square to set up their booths on Wednesday before the square is roped off will need to find a new route this year. 

Motorists on Highway 160 coming from the east who are headed to the Gainesville Saddle Club grounds or other parts of Gainesville can turn onto Hillside Drive just before the bridge traffic light and then turn left onto Main Street. If that turn is too sharp for large trailers and campers, motorists can access the upper end of Hillside Drive from Highway 181, which joins Highway 160 a short distance east of the bridge. The turn from Hillside Drive onto Main Street coming from that direction is much gentler. 

To accommodate the construction zone, the Hillbilly 5K walk/run Saturday morning has been rerouted; the revised route will be shown to participants Saturday morning. The annual archery and shotgun shoot, traditionally held on the grassy area on the side of the Barney Douglas Bridge, will be held in its usual location as construction crews are not scheduled to be working Saturday.

Ozark County Times

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