It is generally agreed that ranking as the No. 1 highway issue in Franklin County is Highway 47 from Washington to Union to St. Clair. The problem is the high volume of traffic on the two-lane road. One of the major bottlenecks for traffic is the intersection of Highways 47 and 50 in Union.
The Highway 47 corridor problems are recognized by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). It’s the same old story about solving our transportation problems in Franklin County and elsewhere — lack of funds. There is legislation pending in the General Assembly that would place on the ballot a sales tax for transportation. If the tax would be approved by the state’s voters, Highway 47 undoubtedly would be given a high priority for funding. The No. 1 issue had been the need for a new Highway 47 bridge over the Missouri River at Washington. That project is moving forward, with a construction start estimated at 2016.
There is a special county committee focused on the Highway 47 corridor, working for improvements with MoDOT. Now one of the county commissioners, Tim Brinker, Washington, first district, has proposed that the county contribute $100,000 toward a study of the corridor. The total cost is estimated at $200,000. The rest of the money for a study should come from Washington, Union and St. Clair, as suggested by Brinker.
If a study is made, it would put Highway 47 in an excellent position for funding when it would become available, either by a new state tax, or other sources such as the federal government.
Brinker indicated that the county’s $100,000 could come from its funding for the program to pave every road in the county. That would cause a delay in paving some county roads, but most of the major roads that needed paving have been given a hard-surface. The truth is there are county roads that serve very few people and it’s a stretch to justify paving them. We realize that money is needed for maintenance of county roads, but $100,000 isn’t going to pinch that program that much.
Brinker is right when he said that the county would help more county residents by dealing with Highway 47 than paving some roads where a small number of people would benefit.
The county should take the lead in a Highway 47 study. The suggestion by Brinker is sound and forward-looking. The study would center on cost, traffic, right of way needed and general plans. It is obvious that a four-lane highway is needed, especially between Washington and Union. An improved Highway 47 also would link Interstate 70 with Interstate 44. That link has been discussed for many years. Improvements are planned for Highway 47 in Warren County.
The county commission’s approval of a $100,000 grant would be a very positive forward boost for a study. There certainly is justification for the allocation!