Local Officials Continue Push to Widen Route 47 - The Missourian: Local News

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Local Officials Continue Push to Widen Route 47

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Posted: Saturday, November 16, 2013 8:00 am

As a 1-cent transportation sales tax remains up in the air, local officials remain focused on widening Highway 47 between Washington and St. Clair.

A bill to put the 1-cent transportation sales tax before voters failed in last year’s legislative session, but now there is an effort to circulate a petition statewide to get the question on the ballot.

There also may be another attempt in the legislative session, which starts in January, to pass a bill putting the question before voters.

The Highway 47 Corridor Committee, which includes officials from local entities, continued to discuss the project at a meeting this week.

The cities of Washington, Union and Franklin County have each committed $50,000 toward a study for the project, while St. Clair has pledged $25,000 and the Washington Special Road District $5,000.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is working on finalizing its long-range plan, said area engineer Judy Wagner.

She noted that recent surveys have found that the public is most interested in projects that improve safety, maintain the existing system, provide more transportation options for Missourians and create economic development.

People are encouraged to visit missourionthemove.org and share their thoughts on transportation needs.

If a 1-cent transportation tax is put up to a public vote and passes, it would generate an estimated $7.1 billion over the 10 years it was in place, Wagner said.

Of that total, about $6.4 billion would be divided among the seven MoDOT regions for use on all kinds of transportation purposes, such as highways, rail, ports, pedestrian and bicycles, she added. Each region would develop a 10-year transportation plan taking into consideration all the different means of transportation, Wagner said.

The other $700 million would be divided among cities and counties in the state.

Wagner said the Highway 47 widening project would cost an estimated $84 million, meaning that some of the project would have to be paid for out of the $6.4 billion pot of money.

Wagner said it is possible that some of the money that Franklin County could get from the $700 million for cities and counties could possibly be used to match other funds.

MoDOT and the East-West Gateway Council of Governments must determine the next transportation priorities for the St. Louis region.

Wagner said the Highway 47 Committee may meet with MoDOT and East-West Gateway early next month to discuss the need for the Highway 47 project.

Committee member Tim Brinker noted that MoDOT has a new district engineer and the committee wants to get the Highway 47 widening project on his radar.

Local officials say the widening project is needed to alleviate safety and congestion concerns.

Wagner said the committee wants direction on what it needs to do to get the Highway 47 widening project on the list of regional priorities.

/local_news

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