The city of Union’s transportation committee supports the plan to study options to alleviate traffic issues at the Highway 47 and Highway 50 intersection. 

In August aldermen approved a contract with Cochran, Union, to conduct a design study related to the realignment of Highway 47 and Highway 50. The deal will pay Cochran $48,500.

Cochran will be evaluating and analyzing two proposed realignment options first discussed in the Highway 47 Corridor Study from November 2018. The plans are a north and south realignment option. 

Transportation committee members were briefed on the deal at their Sept. 5 meeting. Committee members supported the plan.

Assistant City Administrator James Schmieder said the original idea for Highway 47 was to look at improvements from St. Clair to Washington. A study was done showing a number of options along the entire corridor.

That project was expensive and some of the stakeholders weren’t interested at the time.

The city of Union, Franklin County and Union Special Road District began discussions about narrowing the focus to the busy intersection at Highway 47 and Highway 50. 

Committee Chairman Steve Dickey said he thought hiring Cochran was a good idea. He liked the fact that Cochran is using a previous study as a jumping-off point. 

“I think it makes a lot of sense,” he said. “I endorse this.”

Other committee members backed Dickey, but no formal vote was taken. 

Under the study, Cochran will survey the area to “establish  conceptual vertical profile and horizontal alignment” in order to tie into the existing road. The study will research right of way acquisitions needed for any development.

The study also will conduct environmental research and flood plain permitting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

Cochran will look at impact of the plans on utilities and the railroad. 

The survey ultimately will provide cost estimates for both options and recommend phasing in order to secure grant funding.

The phasing is seen as the key point of the study. Mayor Rod Tappe said the city is hoping the study reveals a number of smaller projects that can be done before having to tackle the big project — the realignment of Highway 47. 

City Administrator Russell Rost said in August the city likely won’t be able to do the whole project at once and phasing is the best way to move things forward.

By doing phases, the city hopes it can create some momentum for the project and help push it to the front of the funding line, Rost said. 

In talking with Cochran, Rost said he’s had increased hope the project could move forward. He said Cochran believes there’s going to be federal funding available much quicker than the city originally anticipated. 

The study is expected to be finished in November. Committee member Dr. Steve Weinhold questioned if that was enough time. 

Schmieder said the city was confident Cochran could get the work done. Because Cochran was using the previous study as a starting point, some of the work was already finished. 

Schmieder also pointed out Cochran has been working on the project since early August. 

Background

In July aldermen authorized Rost to advertise for proposals for a consultant for the project. 

The city of Union, Franklin County and the Union Special Road District are teaming up to attempt to address the traffic issues at the intersection of Highway 47 and Highway 50. The group has formed a subcommittee of the county’s Highway 47 committee.

Rost said during a subcommittee’s meeting, Union was instructed to take the lead and hire a consultant. He said the consultant would be tasked with designing a workable realignment project for Highway 47 that splits at Highway 50.

With the design in place, the subcommittee could then work on getting the financing in place for the project. 

City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann said he’s applying for a Franklin County grant to pay for the consultant. Zimmermann said he will apply for a $50,000 grant from the county to pay for the study. 

The grant is a 50-50 grant with the county. If approved, the city would be responsible for  putting up $25,000.

Potential Route

The study will look at two proposed realignment routes to see which one is more feasible. 

While it’s not finalized, Rost said the belief among the subcommittee is the design would focus on the realignment route that goes behind Dickey Bub Farm & Home.

The plan would reroute Highway 47 to the west of Dickey Bub. At that point, Highway 47 North and South would connect, eliminating the need for drivers to turn onto Highway 50 to access Highway 47 South.

Rost called the option the most economical of those on the table. Zimmermann said it’s the best option because it “lends itself to phases.”