Highway 47 Bridge Work in 2015

A city transportation committee may generate more attention to traffic and congestion issues in Union.

That’s according to some Union officials who would like to work more closely with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to address state roads that run through Union.

Last week, during a city board of alderman meeting, Alderman Dustin Bailey asked the feasibility of forming a transportation committee to be recognized by MoDOT so the concerns and ideas of Union officials are heard.

Bailey’s questioning was prompted by a discussion about a Highway 47 study suggested to promote a four-lane Highway 47 corridor project between Washington and St. Clair.

The city of Union has been asked to commit $50,000 for the study.

City Administrator Russell Rost said funds are available in cash reserves. He said the city was the first to commit when the first study proposed, but that study never was conducted.

Rost added that previous traffic studies have shown that the Highway 50/47 intersection is the most congested area of Highway 47.

“Our position is, regardless of the Missouri River bridge, the Highway 50/47 intersection is the most congested portion of Highway 47,” Rost said. “The bridge was built, but we still don’t have funding.”

Bailey suggested inviting MoDOT Area Engineer Judy Wagner to a city meeting discuss past attempts at widening Highway 47 and alleviating congestion, specifically at the Highway 47 and Highway 50 intersections in Union.

“I have questions about the past, present and future of Highway 47,” Bailey said.

He suggested a committee, similar to the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee, where officials could attempt to advance initiatives important to Union.

Wagner attends the Washington committee meetings and the committee is “recognized” by MoDOT, according to Rost.

“She is able to communicate with that community but we don’t have that here,” Bailey said. “Do we need to form a transportation committee?”

He later told The Missourian that a new committee could promote more collaboration between the city and the state.”

My suggestion to possibly create a transportation committee, or to invite representatives to our meetings, is an attempt to have Union’s voice heard more clearly and help us work with MoDOT better in the future,” he said.

Rost added that the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee was the driving force in getting a new Highway 47 bridge over the Missouri River.

“It seemed to be effective in Washington getting the bridge replaced,” he said.

Frustration

Bailey has been vocal about his frustration with MoDOT in the past, most recently with the Flat Creek bridge replacement project on Highway 47.

“My main frustration is that MoDOT did not collaborate well with the city on this project,” he told The Missourian. “They presented plans to officials at a committee meeting and asked for input, instead of incorporating the city in the initial planning stages.

“Had better planning and coordination taken place, it may have made this multimillion dollar project better for all interested parties,” Bailey added.

Rost added that other aldermen were upset with the planning of the Highway 47 Flat Creek bridge project.

“We we’re told we would be meeting with MoDOT to give input on design,” he said. “At one point we may have been asked for a 50/50 partnership — we had originally thought of applying for STP (Surface Transportation Program) grants and the Union Road District also was willing to participate.”

Rost further added that some aldermen felt they were left out of the planning process.

“It went fairly quickly and without a whole lot of meeting,” he said. “That’s what some of the aldermen expressed, there was not a lot of city input.”