Washington transportation board members are suggesting Warren County officials get on board with Highway 47 planning that could impact the entire region.
The next logical area for growth is Franklin and Warren counties, and to the west, according to Ray Frankenberg II, a member of the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee.
He added that the two counties should work together to seek improvements to Highway 47 to be more attractive to potential industries.
“The next spot for industries to go is here and west,” Frankenberg said. “If we can get Warren County on as partners I think we have a lot better chance.”
He further suggested Warren County conduct its own Highway 47 study, from the new bridge to Interstate 70. The study would be similar to the Highway 47 corridor study now underway in Franklin County.
Frankenberg’s comments were made after Franklin County Commissioner Tim Brinker said he has been in contact with Department of Transportation (DOT) officials who said a multi-billion dollar federal infrastructure bill is expected to be proposed. During his talks with the DOT, Brinker said he laid out several road projects in the county, including Highway 47 from Washington to St. Clair.
Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Straatmann noted the previous plans to upgrade Highway 47 to the north of the bridge were put on hold until the location of the new bridge was known.
In May, the Washington Area Transportation Committee pledged the support for a new Warren County connection to the Missouri River bridge.
At that time, Warren County Commissioner Hubie Kluesner and Boonslick Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) Executive Director Chad Eggens requested an endorsement of the plan for an elevated causeway to extend off the new bridge.
However, on Monday, MoDOT Area Engineer for Warren County Erik Maninga said the causeway is not on BRPC’s list of priorities.
He added that Kluesner will push for the project to become a priority for the county.
“The first step is to identify it as a need and then it will depend on where it is as a priority,” Maninga said.
In May, Warren County officials also recognized there are economic development and tourism interests in getting a connection to the bridge out of the flood plain.
There are no immediate plans for the connection, but planners say that an elevated roadway could allow access between Washington and Warren County during major flooding like that which occurred in May.
For more than two days in May there was no connection to the bridge. The situation could be more dire if the levee near Treloar would break.
The causeway would carry vehicles and pedestrians. There are 13,000 people who cross the Missouri River bridge daily, including 600 children on the north side of the bridge who attend classes in the Washington School District, as well as students who attend St. Francis Borgia Regional High School and other parochial schools.
The Highway 47 corridor study in Franklin County is about 20 percent complete, according to Washington Director of Public Services John Nilges.
The study will be very comprehensive and in addition to identifying issues also will provide suggestions for long-term solutions.
Once the study portion is complete, detailed improvement plans can be formulated.
The study is expected to include three improvement plans ranging from the lowest cost to alleviate congestion to the highest cost of reconfiguring and widening the highway.
These plans will be discussed with MoDOT to ensure they are in line with their current design builds in that area.
A contract was approved in August by the Highway 47 committee to pay St. Louis-based Lochmueller Group $185,000 to conduct the traffic analysis over a 10-month period.