Union Expressway

Union Expressway plan

The planned Union Expressway is rolling along, but another project is taking a back seat.

The city recently withdrew a $47,517 grant request for a project that would add new curb and gutter, as well as sidewalks, to a new area of Old Highway 50 west of downtown, City Administrator Jonathan Zimmermann said. “We ran out of time to get that project done.”

The project has been going on for several years and reached Union Fire Station No. 1 last year, Zimmermann said. The grant would have covered the street west of the fire station. The city plans to apply for the grant again in the future but is focused currently on the $12.2 million Union Expressway project.

The expressway will bypass part of the intersection of highways 47 and 50, which is a source of long backups for much of the day. Zimmermann said the city is getting close to the end of the environmental review for the project, which is complicated because of the presence of several endangered mussel species in the 154-mile Bourbeuse River. Once work on the environmental study is completed, Union can begin purchasing needed right-of-way for the project, which will go from the southeastern intersection of highways 47 and 50 to a newly built roundabout further north on Highway 47, near the intersection with Old County Farm Road.

The seven-tenths-of-a-mile expressway will cross the Bourbeuse River on a newly built bridge.

The city is paying $1.9 million of the $10.2 million expressway portion of the project. Franklin County is paying $660,003 of the roundabout’s $1.98 million cost. Federal grant money will cover the remainder of the project.

Right-of-way acquisition on the expressway is expected in February 2022, with construction taking place between April and December 2023.

Union’s work on the Union Expressway comes at the same time Franklin County is seeking money from the $1 trillion federal infrastructure bill now before Congress. Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker has said he would like to use money from the bill to help pay to expand Highway 47 to four lanes for the full 13-mile stretch between Washington and St. Clair, as well as make Highway 50 four lanes between the east end of Union, near East Central College, to Interstate 44.

Brinker has said the “4 Lanes for Franklin” project would enhance the Union Expressway.