With major cutbacks to MoDOT and no certain funding for state highway projects from the federal government, it seems like major improvements to Highway 47 from Washington to St. Clair — the goal of the Highway 47 Corridor Committee — is a pipe dream.
MoDOT Area Engineer Judy Wagner said improvements to the entire corridor would cost somewhere in the ballpark of $84 million.
The improvements will likely be done piecemeal, Wagner said, beginning in the next several years with a new bridge over the Missouri River in Washington and improvements in Union near Flat Creek.
The Flat Creek bridge project is estimated at about $4.6 million, Wagner said.
“It’s a small step, but it is progress,” she said. The project is scheduled for 2015.
The Flta Creek project will include expanding the highway to five lanes, including underneath an existing railroad trestle, Wagner said.
The city of Union also could look at relocating Old County Farm Road, which intersects 47 near the Flat Creek bridge.
Union Mayor Mike Livengood said plans might already exist for a relocation, but was not able to provide any specifics at the corridor committee meeting.
John Griesheimer, Franklin County presiding commissioner, said the draft State Transportation Improvement Program also includes funding for Highway 47 improvements in Warren County — specifically for softening curves and straightening a portion of Hopewell Hill south of Warrenton.
The new bridge in Washington is already listed in the draft STIP.
The improvements near Flat Creek are included in the raft TIP — a plan which only covers the St. Louis region.
The STIP is subject to approval from the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, whereas the TIP must be approved by both the commission as well as the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.
Both plans will likely be approved in July.
Wagner said the Washington bridge is in the state plan and not the regional plan because half of the bridge is located in Warren County, which is not a part of East-West Gateway.
Washington Mayor Sandy Lucy said the plans include a lot of improvements in Franklin County, but not a lot on Highway 47.
Wagner said improvements on Highway A — the old Highway 47 — including the addition of 2-foot shoulders, might help alleviate traffic along the corridor between Union and Washington.
Improvements over the next four years also include resurfacing on Highways AT, AJ, 50 and 100 and guardrail on Highways 100, MM and V.
Wagner said the 47 corridor was not approved by the state highway commission for a National Environmental Policy Act study.
“So this is where we’re at, taking small pieces off this corridor,” she said.
Those studies, which can take several years to complete, are required prior to major infrastructure improvements, Wagner said previously. Such a study was done prior to the design of the Washington bridge.
Completing the corridor improvements might not happen until 2050 or so, she said, in part because of recent cutbacks to MoDOT, including downsizing and the selling of surplus equipment, and the lack of a federal transportation bill.
Currently transportation funding from the federal government comes only as continuing resolutions from Congress. The current bill expired several years ago.
The current continuing resolution is set to end at the end of this month.
Some more improvements could be made if the state receives Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant funding.
MoDOT applied for $20 million from the TIGER program for the Highway 47 Missouri River bridge.
Receiving part or all of the $20 million requested would free up additional funding for other improvements elsewhere.
Wagner said the state has no idea when this year’s TIGER grants will be awarded.
Across the country, state and local government agencies submitted 703 applications requesting $10.2 billion in funding. The program, a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has only $500 million available.