Highway 47

The city of Union is hoping to get by with a little help from its friends.

Union City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann Thursday asked representatives of other Franklin County municipalities to not seek transportation funding from the East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGW) for 2020.

Zimmermann made his request Thursday at the bimonthly meeting of the Franklin County Transportation Committee.

Each year funding for at least one project is granted for each member entity of the regional planning and development group made up of cities and counties from both Missouri and Illinois, he explained.

“If no one else from Franklin County submits a project, Union would be awarded by default,” Zimmermann said. “We would be entitled to 15 percent of whatever the full amount of funding is given to East-West Gateway to disburse. This project is contingent on so many things.”

Zimmermann said he could not give an exact dollar amount Union might receive, but the 15 percent share could be from a total EWGW fund of as much as $50 million.

In recent weeks, Union and Franklin County have been moving at breakneck speed on a project to create an expressway to align Highway 47 at Highway 50 and alleviate the traffic woes on the midsection of the 13-mile Highway 47 corridor stretching from Washington to St. Clair.

The estimated cost of the construction of the expressway is $12,188,653, which could be subsidized by federal grants and the remaining local shares would be split equally between Union and Franklin County in a cost-share agreement.

Response

Since the committee is made up of mainly city administrators and engineers, no direct answers could be given to Zimmermann on Union’s request for the municipalities to refrain from applying to EWGW for next year.

Instead, those in the room will have to take the request back to their elected boards to get a definitive answer.

In June, the cities of Washington and St. Clair bowed out of the Highway 47 project for now until it reaches the borders of their communities, which could be a decade from now.

It also was decided that the primary issue on the corridor is in Union which, with the help of Franklin County, would have to shoulder the financial burden at first.

On Thursday, there was conversations among the committee and even the communities that do not touch Highway 47 like Pacific and Sullivan, which realize the value of the corridor and appeared willing to help by not applying.  

Funding Breakdown

Union will seek funds for the construction of the roadway portion of the expressway, including a 2,000-foot section of bridge over the Bourbeuse River and corresponding flood plain.

The estimated cost of construction of the roadway portion is $10,209,738.

The city of Union will apply for federal surface transportation grant funding in the approximate amount of $8,670,508, leaving the local share of the expressway cost at 20 percent or approximately $3,273,332.

The proposed expressway will run from Highway 47 at Old County Farm Road to the current alignment of south Highway 47 at Highway 50.

The northern end of the expressway would feature a two-lane roundabout on Highway 47 and the southern portion will culminate in a four-way stop intersection.

According to the agreement, Franklin County will solicit funds for the construction of the roundabout with an estimated cost of $1,978,915.

The county will apply for a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) grant in the approximate amount of $1,318,912.

The local share of the roundabout cost will be 20 percent, or approximately $660,003.

If both entities are successful in acquiring the grant funding, the agreement states the approximate amount of $3,933,335 in matching funds will be split on a 50/50 basis between Union and Franklin County, leaving each to pay $1,966,675.

History

Since Union and the county took the lead on the project this summer, it has moved at a faster pace than it has in the past three years.

A contract was approved in August 2017 by the county’s Highway 47 committee to pay St. Louis-based Lochmueller Group $185,000 to conduct an analysis of the Highway 47 corridor from Washington to St. Clair.

Franklin County pledged $75,000, the cities of Union and Washington both pledged $50,000, and the Union and Washington special road districts put in $5,000 each to fund the study. St. Clair did not contribute financially.

The study presents several options to improve the corridor and the general consensus of all parties involved would be to eventually make the 13-mile stretch a four-lane divided highway. Estimated costs would be about $70 million.