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      Missouri 19 not a priority for MoDOT

      A member of the Tri-State Development Steering Committee says something needs to be done to improve Missouri Highway 19 in northeast Missouri.

      A head-on collision 3 miles west of Center, Missouri sent two people to the hospital early Sunday morning.

      Nineteen-year-old Katie Lentz of Quincy had to be extricated from her car.

      The driver of the other car in that accident, 26-year-old Aaron Smith of New London, faces charges for a DWI, second degree assault and failure to drive on the right half of the roadway, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

      Now many eyes have turned to the safety of the 2-lane Missouri 19, which is a major thorough fair to get to Columbia, Jefferson City and the Lake of the Ozarks.

      KHQA spoke with a Quincy man who's been asking the state to do something about Missouri 19 for years.

      Pat Poepping serves as a member of the Tri-State Development Steering Committee. It's named Missouri 19 one of its priorities to improve the economic development of the Tri-State region, but more importantly to keep drivers safer.

      "A lot of our folks around here go to the Lake of the Ozarks, Mark Twain Lake and we want a safe route for them back and forth," he said. "We don't feel the 2-lane is a safe way, and we want to make it a major artery in and out of the Tri-State region."

      Wanda Burr-White from Perry, Missouri was one of the first people on the scene Sunday morning. She can relate to the dangers of Missouri 19. A semi t-boned her car about two years ago along this stretch of highway.

      "I think it's a dangerous road," she said. "There have been a lot of accidents on it, and it's heavily travelled. You got 18-wheelers, you got campers. I would like to see a divided highway."

      The Missouri Department of Transportation told KHQA it has not identified Missouri 19 as a priority, but that's something Poepping and other members of the Tri-State Development Steering Committee are working to change.

      "Take 61 in Missouri," he said. "I'm not picking on Missouri. By the way, Missouri has some great roads, and they've done a great job. When they improved 61 north of Canton, think of all the lives that's saved. People were being killed and 61 going south out of Hannibal years ago to St. Louis was a dangerous road. Four-lane roads are much safer."

      But Poepping says it's going to take a commitment on the part of the state and taxpayers.

      "The problem MoDOT has is with the other two states in Iowa and Illinois is they need funding," Poepping said. "This is where we need to come across. Folks are just gonna have to step up to fund highways."