By Gregg Jones
Missourian Staff Writer
The widening of the Highway 47 corridor is the No. 1 priority in Franklin County.
That’s according to Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Area Engineer Judy Wagner, who noted that sections of Interstate 44 also need work, but Highway 47 tops the list when considering congestion of roadways.
The comments came at Monday’s Washington Area Highway and Transportation Committee meeting when Wagner was asked by committee member Bill Miller Sr. what the most pressing need is in the county.
“As far as congestion goes, Highway 47 for sure,” Wagner commented, “but there are some locations on 44 I would love to get corrected.
“The condition is good; however, it (47) needs to be expanded because of its capacity and the high crash rate that we are experiencing.”
Highway 47 is part of the East-West Gateway Council of Governments Connect 2045 Plan, but no funding has been identified. It is labeled as an “illustrious” project in Tier 1 of the plan.
According to Wagner, a 10-month traffic analysis of the artery will help identify areas that could be addressed with safety improvements. St. Louis-based Lochmueller Group is conducting the study at the cost of $185,000.
The study will be very comprehensive and in addition to identifying issues, also will provide suggestions for long-term solutions. It is funded by Franklin County, $75,000; the cities of Union and Washington, $50,000 each; and $5,000 from both the Union and Washington Special Road districts.
“We need to be ready,” said Wagner. “When we get safety funding we will know where to prioritize the next need.
“It is definitely something we will utilize right away and for the future too,” she added.
When it comes to the Connect 2045 Plan, the Highway 47 study will not boost the chances of funding for the road.
“It won’t move us up a notch as far as funding, but we will be better prepared,” Wagner said.
A key area to address, Wagner noted, is the section of Highway 50 that separates Highway 47 south and north in Union. It includes a bridge over the Bourbeuse River.
“That area is the most intense study area along the corridor,” Wagner said.
When asked, Wagner explained relocating Highway 50 north of Union still has been identified as a possibility, but since Highway 50 was widened in Union several years ago, it is no longer a necessity.
“Progress Parkway to I-44 is probably a much higher priority,” she commented.
Wagner added a new Highway 50 and I-44 interchange is listed in the long-range plan but no improvements have been prioritized there.
She noted that a new bridge will be installed on eastbound I-44 to the Highway 50 onramp.
“Hopefully by adding an additional lane there it will help reduce crashes at that location,” Wagner said.