Highway 47 expansion

Cars drive along Highway 47 between Washington and Union Nov. 29. The Missouri Department of Transportation has listed the expansion of Highway 47 as one of the high-priority transportation needs across the state.  

Area children are not the only ones compiling their wish lists this holiday season.

Earlier this month, the Missouri Department of Transportation released a draft version of “Citizens Guide to Transportation Funding,” which identifies $825 million worth of high-priority, unfunded annual transportation needs across the state. Included on the list are several projects in and around Franklin County, including the expansion of Highway 47 from Washington to St. Clair. 

These are projects that could be addressed with funds from the federal infrastructure bill recently approved in Congress and by revenues from the state’s motor vehicle fuel tax increase. 

The list is broken into three tiers. Tier One projects include $95 million for bridge improvements, $350 million for interstate and highway improvements, $275 million for investments that spur economic growth and increase safety, $80 million for multimodal transportation and $25 million for MoDOT maintenance and operations.   

The expansion of Highway 47 is listed as both a Tier One and Tier Two project, signaling that the work would likely be done in two phases. 

MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna said items included in Tier One are projects that could be completed within the next five years. 

“These projects have good estimates,” McKenna said. 

Projects in Tier Two wouldn’t be started until at least 2026 but are focused on bridges, roads and other long-term improvements to the state’s infrastructure. These projects, which are expected to cost $2.2 billion, have “broader estimates,” McKenna said. 

Tier Three projects focus on multimodal transportation improvements such as airports, river ports for freight shipping, rail improvements and bicycle and recreation trails.  

In Tier One, MoDOT lists $22.6 million for improving safety and making some capacity improvements on Highway 47 from St. Clair to Washington. Officials said Monday at the Washington Transportation Advisory Committee meeting that this work would likely focus on improvements near Union, including a potential roundabout and the Union Expressway. 

Tier Two includes $45 million for Highway 47 improvements, which local officials said are expected to widen the highway between St. Clair and Washington. 

“It is good to be on the list,” said Bill Straatmann, chairman of the Washington Area Transportation Advisory Committee. 

Washington Mayor Sandy Lucy agreed. “(The list) is a lot of the things that we have been talking about,” she said. “(The list) shows that MoDOT has been listening to us.”

Washington Public Works Director John Nilges said he and other members of the city administration have been invited to participate in a meeting with MoDOT on Dec. 8. The meeting will feature representatives from municipalities and county governments across the metro region. 

“I think we will really know more after that Dec. 8 meeting,” Nilges said. 

Other Tier One projects from the region included on the list are: $22 million to reconfigure the intersection of interstates 64 and 70 in St. Charles County, $38 million to rehab bridges and reconfigure interchanges of I-64 from Kingshighway to Jefferson in the city of St. Louis and $22.6 million to reconfigure access points along Highway 141 and I-170 at St. Louis Lambert International Airport in St. Louis County. In total, Tier One includes $40 million for bridges in the St. Louis region, $133 million for major interstate reconstruction and $22.6 million for economic growth and safety improvements, all more than any other region in the state is expected to receive. 

Across the state, Tier One projects address 215 road miles, 29 bridges and 29 miles of major interstate reconstruction. These projects would generate $1.3 billion in economic activity over the next decade, according to MoDOT.  

There are several Tier Two projects listed for Franklin County, including $350,000 for reconstructing 5 miles of Highway 50 from Highway EE to Independence Drive in Union, $330,000 for reconstruction of Highway 50 from Highway Y in Gerald to Highway C outside of Leslie and $12.1 million to reconstruct Highway HH in rural Franklin County from Highway 30 to Highway O near Catawissa. 

Other Tier Two projects in the region included on the list are: $300,000 for a hydraulic study regarding a potential causeway north of Washington in Warren County along Highway 47, $45 million for interchange improvements and a new bridge on I-44 from Hampton to Vandeventer in the city of St. Louis and $168 million for new interchanges on I-70 from the St. Louis city limits to Benton Street. Other potential projects include $156 million for improvements on I-70, replacing bridges and building new interchanges from Highway 141 to I-170. MoDOT also lists $35 million for widening I-270 from Highway 100 to I-64 in St. Louis County.  

In total, MoDOT lists $100.7 million for bridge improvements in the St. Louis region while also listing $519 million for interstate and highway improvements and $162 million for economic growth and safety-related improvements. In total, the region is expected to receive $783 million in Tier Two — nearly double what the Kansas City region is potentially going to receive. 

Projects in Tier Two improve 777 interstate and highway miles and 53 bridges, and they would generate an economic output of $5.4 billion over the next decade while creating 1,700 new jobs, according to MoDOT.