SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Federal Highway Administration has approved a plan to extend Kansas Expressway south toward a southwest Missouri county.

The administration approved the project’s environmental assessment report. The approval allows Greene County to proceed with the design phase of the extension that would go down toward Christian County, the Springfield News-Leader reported .

Opponents of the project say they’d rather see Greene County choose a different route for a north-south corridor because the expressway will create traffic congestion and road safety issues without easing the commute between counties.

“We’re disappointed but we’re not surprised,” said Jane Paul, spokeswoman for the North-South Corridor Alliance, which was created to oppose the project.

County leaders said the corridor’s route has been set since the 1990s because the county has been buying land and reserving the right-of-way since. They said that traffic will only continue to be congested as more residences and developments come up if nothing is constructed.

Timberbrook Property Owners Association members said attorneys they hired to challenge the environmental assessment are reviewing the administration’s decision. A report created by the attorneys said the assessment wasn’t sufficient enough to meet the National Environmental Policy Act’s requirements. The report was released as part of public comments to the highway administration before it was approved.

Paul said local residents have already started contacting local legislators for help in opposing the project.

The Greene County Highway Department is planning to hold a public meeting to discuss roadway design and construction timeline, according to a county release.

Construction is expected to begin in summer 2018.

Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com