If the Missouri State Fair concluding did not signal the end of summer, Labor Day weekend does. Their calling cards are the same for Sedalia residents — increased vehicle traffic. The Lake of the Ozarks and Silver Dollar City in Branson are popular Labor Day weekend destinations, and the Sedalia Police Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol will increase visibility for the high traffic environment.
“Every Labor Day we put extra officers on the highway,” said Missouri State Highway Patrol Lt. Stephen Coates. “We do have the obvious increase in traffic, and with that comes the chance for more accidents and more people being hurt.”
SPD will also have two more officers on duty this weekend. SPD Cmdr. Larry Ward said local residents anticipate the traffic spike.
“Oh yeah, they know what to expect,” Ward said. “Just like during the State Fair. I encourage local travelers to use alternative routes and expect minor delays.”
Ward said up to 25,000 vehicles use U.S. Highway 65 through Sedalia any given day.
According to a release from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, six people were killed and 369 injured in Missouri over the Labor Day holiday in 901 traffic crashes in 2014. Troopers arrested 94 people for driving while intoxicated during last year’s holiday weekend.
The same release said troopers will emphasize enforcement Friday through Monday. This operation targets traffic violations and aggressive driving and will include Interstates 29, 44, 55, and 70, and U.S. Highways 60 and 61.
With travelers returning from Labor Day excursions, Monday evening will be a peak traffic period along Sedalia highways. Coates emphasized drivers exercising common sense and patience, and said residents should not be deterred from driving.
“I haven’t experienced it that bad,” Coates said of avoiding roads on Labor Day weekend. “Typically traffic moves, there’s just a lot more of it.”
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000.