Franklin County could lose 2 percent of its transportation funding if new project scoring criteria is approved by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGW) next month.
Franklin County Highway Administrator Ron Williams said the new scoring is part of a federal 2045 master plan, which will give priority to larger projects with extra features not normally included in Franklin County projects.
“I think this is a bad plan for us out here,” Williams said. “The scoring used to be based on performance criteria, now it’s about getting more bang for their buck.”
Williams added simple road preservation projects would now have to take on more options like adding sidewalks, trails and lighting. Traffic flow, public transit, multimodal and alternative forms of transportation would also be key factors.
“We (county) don’t have sidewalks and public transit that connects with anything,” Williams said. “How do we compete? We just want to overlay roads to preserve them. We don’t want to put in sidewalks.”
According to numbers from EWGW, Franklin County would drop from 6 percent of the total money awarded down to 4 percent.
St. Charles County would drop from 15 to 7 percent and Jefferson County would go from 12 percent to 5 percent.
On the flip side, St. Louis County would increase its share from 50 percent to 66 percent.
St. Louis City’s share would remain about the same.
“Jefferson County has been very vocal on this,” Williams said. “The feeling is this would push entities to propose larger projects, which would eat up the money normally used for the smaller ones.”
In addition to road and bridge projects, entities like Bi-State Development and Metro could submit requests to purchase new buses and mass transit projects which would score higher under the new criteria.
“This isn’t fair for us in the road and bridge business,” Williams said. “We want to spend the money where we know best. We feel this is being crammed down our throats.”
Franklin County Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer, who is currently the chairman of the EWGW executive board, said even with several counties against the new criteria he’s not sure they will have the votes to stop it.
East-West Gateway consists of St. Louis, Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties in Missouri and Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties in Illinois.
“We are a little duck in a big pond,” Griesheimer said. “We don’t even belong to Bi-State. We’re going to have to rally the troops and reach out to our brethren in Illinois to vote it down. We don’t have much of a choice but to work together.”
Griesheimer added there are about 40 voting EWGW members and Franklin, Jefferson and St. Charles counties only represent five of those votes.
He expects the vote to be on the EWGW agenda in October.