If a financing deal falls apart, it's likely improvements to the Highway 47 and Highway 50 intersection won’t get done any time soon.
Union City Administrator Russell Rost said the only way the city of Union can afford to make improvements is with help from other entities.
During a meeting with stakeholders along Highway 47 last week, the city of Union was informed that the cities of Washington and St. Clair would be stepping back from funding any Highway 47 project.
The meeting was called to discuss a potential lane addition from Washington to St. Clair. The two cities at the end of the project agreed the timing wasn’t right for them.
That decision meant the city of Union, Franklin County and the Union Special Road District are left to figure out the scope and cost of any project. The group has set its sights on realignment work at the problematic Highway 47 and Highway 50 intersection.
The three groups are scheduled to meet Tuesday morning to discuss the outlines of a plan. Rost said he didn’t expect any details to be finalized, but hoped everyone could get on the same page and keep things moving forward.
Rost said without a financial partnership, any hope for the project starting in the next decade would die.
He added that there are number of ideas and scenarios for the realignment project, but the price tag is expected to be around $22 million.
Rost said the realignment project is in the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) long-range plans. He said he’s been told it’s targeted for some time in the 2040s.
The city would like to speed up the work. Last year the city met with MoDOT to discuss the project and got soft numbers for costs. Since then, the project has been tied into a potential land addition for the highway.
In order to get the project done sooner, Rost said MoDOT would entertain a 50/50 cost share. MoDOT would pay for half the project while Union, and others, would pay the rest.
The others is the critical part of the project, at least from where Union sits. Rost said the city could not afford its half of the project alone. Right now he said the city is counting on the county and the special road district to absorb some of the costs.
“If one drops out, it’s probably going to be a dead topic,” he said.
Rost said the funding isn’t likely to be an even split. The special road district has a smaller budget and a smaller role in the project and is expected to take on a smaller financial obligation, he said.
The county and city also will have to figure out how much each can afford. Any number is likely going to be dependent on grant money, Rost said.
The city has paid for major road projects with federal grants. Under the program, qualifying projects are eligible for federal funds that cover up to 80 percent of the project cost. For example, a $1 million road project would only cost the city $200,000.
If the city, county and road district move forward with the project, Rost said all would likely apply for federal grants.
Using the $22 million estimate, Rost said the city, county and road district would be on the hook for $11 million. With 80/20 federal grants, the three groups would have to come up with around $2,200,000.
Rost said if the groups can agree to terms, the project could take place in the next four to five years.