MoDOT plan may throw curve for Rocky Top Resort owners
As the Ozark County Times went to press Tuesday evening, a public meeting concerning improvements for the Tecumseh curves on Highway 160 was being held in the Gainesville High School cafeteria.
The infamous curves have been the site of numerous serious vehicle crashes over the years, and the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission has recently proposed improvements for the curves that would include widening one mile of roadway, realigning two curves and adding paved shoulders and guardrail to that section of roadway.
The improvements are welcome news for many who travel that stretch of Highway 160, but the plans could have a major negative impact on some local landowners.
“I’m just going to wait and see what the final plans look like, but right now it appears it’s going to really affect our resort,” said Joe Easterday, who owns and manages Rocky Top Campground and Cabins in Tecumseh.
Easterday said that, the way it looks now, the new road would take out all five of the original native stone cabins that his resort is known for, rock cabins that were built in the late 1940s. He said the proposal would also take out a shop and a house on his property, along with about one-third of the resort’s campground.
“I’ve got to wait and see where the proposal ends up before I figure out my next move,” said Easterday, who has owned the campground with his wife Diane, for the past 11 years.
“We’ve worked really hard to promote our business,” said Easterday. “It hasn’t been easy.”
If the current proposal stands, Easterday said they would still have a lot of the campground and eight of the newer cabins would remain intact.
“We’re not going to go out of business,” Easterday said. “I mean, we have several acres here we can develop, but it costs money to replace those buildings and add the needed infrastructure.” Plus, he added that the character of the 1940s cabins can hardly be replicated. MoDOT project manager Pete Berry told the Times Monday that the improvement project is in the preliminary stage, which means it’s about 30 percent complete.
“Obviously we are at the public-input stage, where we will take all of the input from (Tuesday’s) meeting and forward it to the Highway Commission who will review it at their October meeting,” Berry said. From there, Berry said, the commission will make any changes necessary to the proposal before a May 2020 letting of bids. Bids for the project are planned to be reviewed at the June 2020 Highway Commission meeting, and if a bid is accepted, construction may begin in July 2020 with completion expected by November 2021.
Berry stressed that the current proposal is just a preliminary plan. “It may change some before the final project,” he noted.The improvements, originally planned for 2022, were bumped up a year, Berry said. Look for coverage of the meeting on the Ozark County Times’ website and social media pages and in next week’s print edition.