SPRINGFIELD - History will be made Dec. 12 in Joplin, Mo., when U.S. Route 71 between Kansas City and Pineville, Mo., is officially designated Interstate 49, but this milestone will mean changes for truckers and farmers.
The Missouri Department of Transportation will begin to uncover or turn I-49 shields already installed along the highway once the renaming of the highway is official.
U.S. 71 along the western edge of Missouri south of Kansas City - a distance of 185 miles - was upgraded to interstate highway standards, with new interchanges, overpasses and outer roads. These safety enhancements eliminate at-grade intersections. Interstate highway access is allowed only at interchanges.
Drivers on I-49 will notice the addition of the interstate shield on new mile marker standards along the shoulder. Signs along I-49 will still carry the U.S. 71 mark. That's because U.S. 71 in Missouri is still part of the national U.S. 71 corridor. Other than this, the driving experience will remain essentially the same.
However, commercial motor vehicle drivers and some farmers using I-49 should take note that some regulations, including those pertaining to maximum weight and axle weight distribution, are more strict when a truck travels an interstate highway.
Farmers should note that agricultural implements are prohibited from operating under their own power on an interstate highway. That means farmers who might have driven tractors or combines on U.S. 71 will have to haul the machinery once the highway is designated I-49 on Dec. 12.
If the machinery being hauled results in a load that exceeds highway width, height and length restrictions, a permit must be obtained from the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Contact MoDOT's Motor Carrier Services division at 1-866-831-6277 to request information about an oversize, overweight permit.