NEAR EUREKA, MO (KPLR) – One of Missouri's deadliest highways is about to become less deadly. MoDOT has just broken ground on a $1.7 million project to make Highway FF near Eureka safer. The true cost has actually been a lot higher.
“20 year old, full of life, dreams, going to attack the world in a quiet sensitive way,” said Shawn Archambault of his daughter, Kaela, killed in a 2010 accident on FF. “It’s hard to accept that she doesn’t get to do that.”
Her vehicle went off the side of the road and hit a school bus. The section of highway has become known as “Kaela’s Curve”.
About 10 months later, Karen Turnbo, a mother of two, who’d be turning 50 this year, died when she went off the same highway just beyond Kaela’s curve.
“Yeah, it’s hard to graduate without her and all of that stuff,” said Karen Turnbo’s daughter, Bailey.
Saturday’s groundbreaking for the highway project fell on the same day as Bailey’s prom.
The project will add two to four foot shoulders along the 4.5 mile stretch of FF from Highway 109 to Highway F. The stretch will also get new guard rails, new asphalt, rumble stripes , and elevation corrections.
“Without the guard rails you go into a 20-30 ft. ditch and that’s it,” said Karen Turbo’s son, Bain.
“This was basically a farm to market road when it was built. When it was overlaid, it was built for cars that go 35mph. You can see there’s a lot more traffic on this road now,” said MoDOT District Engineer, Greg Horn.
He said MoDOT lacked funding to upgrade similar antiquated highways state-wide; projected shortfalls could stop future safety upgrades altogether.
Kaela’s dad has spearheaded the effort on Highway FF in his daughter’s honor through the “One Curve At A Time” and KMA (Keep Memories Alive) Foundation. The letters KMA are also his daughter’s initials: Kaela Marie Archambault.
The Turnbos gladly joined the cause.
“It scares me but I’ve driven it. I can’t wait to see what they do with it,” said Bailey Turnbo.
“I’m going to come back and check it out. I want to see the difference. It’s an awesome thing,” said her brother, Bain.
“I will always be an advocate for the rural road system because I believe my daughter is telling me, ‘keep doing it dad, so others don’t have to pay this price’,” said Shawn Archambault, fighting tears.
The project should be completed by October.
Website: KMA Foundation.
Changes coming to Dangerous Stretch on Highway FF