The Ozark Mountain Highroad (SR 465) was constructed in the mid-'90's in reaction to a tourism boom that occurred in Branson, but failed to relieve the congestion of SR 76.
Project Type:Connector Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:2,970 Length (mi):7.50
Economic Distress:1.22 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):69 Population Growth Rate (%):1.75
Employment Growth Rate (%):2.85 Market Size:29,509 Airport Travel Distance:56.3378 Topography:19
Region:Great Lakes / Plains State:Branson County:Stone & Teney Counties
City:Branson Urban/Class Level:Rural Local Area:Branson
Impact Area:County Transportation System:Highway GIS Lat/Long:36.714596 / -93.268816
Initial Study Date:1969 Post Constr. Study Date:1999
Constr. Start Date:1993 Constr. End Date:1998
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 1998 Planned Cost (YOE $):N/A
Actual Cost (YOE $):78,700,000 Actual Cost (curr $):116,849,687
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
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NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
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The Ozark Mountain Highroad (SR 465) was constructed in the mid-1990's in southwestern Missouri in response to growing tourism in Branson. Branson is known for live music, amusement parks, and outdoors activities. Unprecedented national media coverage in 1991 resulted in a swell in visitors and an increased interest in regional investment. Traffic on SR 76 (the main strip in Branson on which most attractions are located) greatly exceeded capacity, prompting the governor to expedite the construction of a bypass route (US 465) to divert traffic away from SR 76 and relieve congestion. Currently, only the northern portion of the bypass has been constructed. It has had no discernable development or employment impacts on the region to date, in part because the full bypass was never completed.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
SR 465, also known as the Ozark Mountain Highroad, is located in the southwestern portion of Missouri in the Ozark Mountains. Although a majority of the approximately seven-mile highway is located within Taney County, the western portion of the roadway measuring less than one mile in length crosses into Stone County. Originally designed as an eighteen-mile interstate bypass for I-65 around Branson, Missouri, the southern portion has yet to be approved and constructed, effectively establishing the current route as an interstate spur. The roadway provides alternative connections between I-65 and the major amusement attractions at Silver Dollar City and the western portion of Branson.
The limited access, grade-separated, four-lane divided highway has three interchanges, with the first interchange at I-65 about five miles north of the city. SR 465 travels westward for almost three miles to an interchange with SR 248, and then begins to travel south, connecting with SR 76 at its current terminus.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
Taney and Stone Counties together housed 48,400 jobs and had a combined population of 75,400 in 2006. Between 1990 and 2006, employment and population grew by 111% and 68% respectively, for average annual rates of job growth measuring 5% and annual population growth of 3.3%. Over the same period, annual employment growth in the state averaged 1.3% and annual population growth averaged 0.8%. The region's faster population and employment growth relative to the state is a result of the burgeoning tourism industry.
Located in the Ozark Mountains and surrounded by the White River, the damming of which has creating Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake, and Bull Shoals Lake, Branson and the surrounding region have been a scenic tourist destination since the turn of the 20th century. Performance and arts entertainment activities began developing in the region in the 1950's, expanding greatly in the 1990's. Currently, the region has more than fifty theaters, offering more than one hundred shows to the public. Prior to 1991, the region had twenty-two theaters.
Branson is the economic center for the I-65 corridor in southwestern Missouri. Although Branson's population was only about 7,500 people in 2007 (US Census), Branson and the immediately surrounding region attracted an estimated 8.4 million tourists, who collectively spent $1.8 billion. In the early 1990's, annual tourist visitations to Branson and the surrounding area amounted to just over two million.
In 1991, Branson and the surrounding attractions became a focal point of national media coverage, effectively promoting the region nation-wide for its music and outdoor attractions. Tourists, developers, investors, and performers flocked to the Branson area, causing severe congestion on Branson's main street, SR 76
In 1992, the Governor of Missouri declared the high level of congestion an "economic emergency" and called for an expedited process for creating a roadway that would relieve traffic in downtown Branson. An eighteen-mile, four-lane, divided highway was proposed to skirt the city to the west, joining with I-65 north and south of the city. Its cost was estimated at between $160 million and $185 million (1992$).
Despite a full bypass proposal, only the northern portion from I-65 north of Branson to SR 76, close to the amusement facilities at Silver Dollar City, has been funded and built. Construction on the northern section of the bypass began in 1993 and was opened to the public in August 1998, at a cost of $78.7 million. The economic growth in Branson led to increases in property values, thus escalating the price of completing the bypass due to rising land acquisition costs and difficult terrain.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
Because the bypass has not been completed, it has not served to redirect traffic around the City of Branson. It also does not provide a significantly shorter route (time or distance) to the shows and attractions along SR 76, which are the ultimate destinations for many of the visitors to the region. Thus, SR 465 is underutilized and does not provide appreciable traffic relief on SR 76. In the early 1990's, SR 76 experienced average annual daily traffic volumes of about 28,000, exceeding the design capacity. Currently the average annual daily traffic along that route is unchanged at 28,000.
Functioning as an interstate spur rather than a full bypass, traffic on SR 465 has been much lighter than anticipated. With only three interchanges and very sparse business development along the route, SR 465 serves primarily the traffic to and from Silver Dollar City and the western parts of Branson to and from areas in the north (with access via I-65). The City of Branson has developed some local roads to relieve congestion on SR 76. These roads have attracted some traffic from SR 76.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
Branson and the surrounding region have grown significantly since 1991, due to growth in tourism. The Ozark Mountain Highroad was built in response to this growth. Development immediately surrounding the Ozark Mountain Highroad, to date, has been very limited, in part because the road was never completed. It has not served to relieve congestion and stimulate new growth along SR 76. The route was not designed to accommodate or facilitate significant development immediately adjacent to the highway, and it has not done so. No new jobs have been created in the region as a result of the highway investment.
A myriad of non-transportation factors have influenced the construction of SR 465, and its impacts on development. Media coverage, marketing, and promotion brought national attention to Branson, and the influx of tourists in response to this exposure led to the need for the bypass. However, new businesses have clustered along SR 76, and are not directly served by the bypass. Branson itself is nestled within the Ozark Mountains, and the terrain makes economic expansion difficult and expensive. Political support and opposition have collided throughout the project's history, and ultimately resulted in the abandonment of the southern portion of the bypass.
Environmental Impact Statement: Ozark Mountain Highroad. Branson, Missouri.
City of Branson
Taney County - Road and Bridge Dpt.
Taney County Commission
Taney County - Economic Development Dpt.
MO DOT - Branson
MO DOT - Springfield
Branson Chamber of Commerce
Case Study Developed by Wilbur Smith Associates