Union Expressway Map

A proposed bypass in Union has taken another step.

A committee with the East-West Gateway Council of Governments moved forward a request for a total of more than $8 million in federal grant money for the Union Expressway and an adjacent roundabout, which are on a draft list of projects to receive funding. Russell Rost, administrative consultant for the city of Union, said a vote from the agency’s full board is expected Aug. 26.

“Now we move into the design phase,” Rost said. “It is moving forward. The financing that we had is still in place. It is not affected by emergency issues with COVID or anything else.”

The Union Expressway projects are the only ones in Franklin County on East-West Gateway’s draft list for its fiscal year 2021-24 Transportation Improvement Program.

A public comment period on East-West Gateway’s website (https://bit.ly/2YNYHKg) started June 30 and runs through Aug. 5.

Comments may be left on either the Union or Franklin County portions of the project, or both.

The agency also will hold two online “virtual open houses” from noon to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, and from 5-5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 23.

Open house meetings like these are usually held in person, with staff and exhibits on hand to inform the public. But that changed after the coronavirus pandemic.

“A lot of times, they have it at city hall,” Rost said.

The grant money is broken into two parts. The city is applying for $6,936,406 out of the $10,209,736 cost for the seven-tenths of a mile Union Expressway itself, which includes a new bridge over the Bourbeuse River and roadway connecting to the current south Highway 47 intersection with Highway 50.

The county is applying for $1,318,912 of the $1,978,915 cost of a roundabout at the north end of the Union Expressway. The roundabout will be located at the current intersection of Highway 47 and Old County Farm Road.

Union and Franklin County are splitting the remainder of the $12 million project’s cost, expected to be about $2 million each. The Union Board of Aldermen voted in April to put $400,000 toward the city’s cost for the project using leftover money from its former health care pool.

The city and county decided to have the project end south of the railroad underpass because building the expressway over the tracks would have required the railroad tracks to be improved. Rost said that would have added significant cost and time delay to the project, which the local governments are looking to fast track ahead of MoDOT’s schedule for improvements to the congested Highway 47 through Union.

Union received an email from the Missouri Department of Transportation about the project Tuesday, June 30, Rost said. Among things asked about was additional clarification on the viability of the roundabout.

“They’re just normal engineering questions that they want to have answered, in addition to the things we already had in the original statement,” he said.

Construction on the Union Expressway isn’t expected to start until 2023, but Rost said the city will be busy with it until then. Union and Franklin County will plan the project with MoDOT, then right of way must be acquired, then the projects go out for bid.

“I’m pleased to see it still moving forward on the same time schedule we had last summer,” Rost said.

Written comments on the Union Expressway and other regional Transportation Improvement Program projects also can be mailed to: TIP Comments; East-West Gateway Council of Governments, 1 S. Memorial Drive, Suite 1600, St. Louis, MO 63102.