It may be years before Highway 47 at Highway 50 is realigned, but a recent cost estimate was intended to at least get a potential project moving forward.
Union City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann said any talks about realignment of the highway simply are conceptual at this point. The cost estimate is to plant the seed for the project.
“There’s obviously something very wrong with Highway 47,” Zimmermann said. “We back up from Highway 50 to the quarry. There’s a very real issue and we want to know. ‘How do we fix these issues?’ ”
One way to fix the traffic problems would be to realign Highway 47 so its north and south routes connect.
The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) recently presented a rough estimate of what it would cost to realign Highway 47 at Highway 50. The plan would be to eliminate the need for drivers to use Highway 50 to get from one Highway 47 section to the other.
By aligning the two, Zimmermann said their would be more options for traffic control that could hopefully alleviate some congestion and make commutes easier.
In an email to the city, MoDOT Area Engineer Judy Wagner said work could cost $16,864,080.
City officials reviewed the estimate at Monday’s personnel, finance and public works meeting. The project includes $5,667,000 for a new bridge over the Bourbeuse River, $8,208,080.21 for the roadway, $180,000 for utility relocation and $2,809,000 for right of way acquisition.
The price tag could jump by $1 million if a pipe needs to be relocated.
MoDOT’s figures are based on its preferred realignment plan. Zimmermann said this realignment would extend north Highway 47 through the intersection and over a new bridge over the Bourbeuse River.
From there the new road would cut between a wastewater treatment plant and Dickey Bub Farm and Home before connecting with the current Highway 47 south.
Zimmermann cautioned the plan is entirely conceptual and the numbers are rough. The estimates were simply intended to give the city an idea of what it would take to move the project forward.
The realignment is part of a long-range MoDOT plan, but not until the year 2040, Zimmermann said. Recognizing the issues at the intersection, the city wanted an idea of what the work would cost.
Zimmermann said now that the city has an idea of what the project could cost, it can start looking at moving forward with seeking funding options or killing the project.
“Nobody is telling us we have to do this — this is something we want to look at to see what’s possible,” he said.
At Monday’s meeting, the mayor and board expressed a reluctance to dismiss the project. Mayor Mike Livengood said if the city’s share were reasonable, he’d like to pursue the realignment.
Zimmermann said the only way the project moves forward in the near future is if the city agrees to a cost-share with MoDOT. Right now that would be a 50/50 split with the city chipping in somewhere between $8-9 million.
Union City Administrator Russell Rost said the city would like to shrink that number. He said he didn’t see a way the city could afford that now.
One idea mentioned Monday night was to split the cost with Franklin County. If Franklin County agreed to pick up half of the city’s estimated cost, the city would be on the hook for around $4 million.
Rost said at that point, the city could then apply for a federal grant where Union would be responsible for only 20 percent of the cost.
Zimmermann said discussion about the alignment will likely pick up after a Highway 47 Corridor Committee study is finished. The committee, comprised of representatives from Franklin County, St. Clair, Union, Washington, MoDOT and others has been meeting regularly to look into traffic issues on the road.
The Highway 47 committee has commissioned a study to look at ways to make the 13-mile stretch between Washington and St. Clair better. Zimmermann said the study could look at alternative realignment options.
For now, the city has an idea on what is possible and what it could possibly cost. The board agreed to discuss the issue at a future meeting.