More than 27,000 vehicles travel each day on Highway 100 between Washington and the highway’s intersection with Interstate 44 at Villa Ridge, according to data from the Missouri Department of Transportation.
This is an increase of nearly 8,000 vehicles per day when comparing data from 2016.
The increase in motor vehicle traffic and continued residential, commercial and other developments along the highway’s corridor, such as the construction of South Point Elementary School, is the primary catalyst for a state-funded, wide-ranging study of the nearly 9-mile corridor, according to MoDOT Area Engineer Stephen O’Connor, who oversees projects in Franklin and Jefferson counties.
“It is going to be an extensive study,” O’Connor said Thursday.
MoDOT is hiring George Butler Associates of Lenexa, Kansas, to act as a consultant on the study and make recommendations to the state’s transportation agency regarding what improvements should be made to the corridor.
“They are going to be looking at everything along the four-lane stretch of Highway 100 from just east of Washington to Route AT,” O’Connor said. “They will be taking a look at everything from average daily vehicle counts to crash rates, the speed of drivers in the corridor. They will be pulling a lot of data and analyzing it.
“There have been a number of accidents on that stretch of highway,” he said, “so we want to make sure that we are doing everything we can, as MoDOT, to make that stretch of highway one that people can travel safely, whether that means adding stop lights, additional signage or something else entirely.”
According to O’Connor, any recommendations won’t likely come until early 2022.
That won’t be soon enough for some members of the Washington Area Transportation Commission, including Commission chair Bill Straatmann, who said in his opinion, MoDOT should have had the yet-to-be-launched study already underway or nearly completed.
“What are we going to do, wait until there are cars piled up and buses full of hurt kids?” Straatmann said. “This is something that should have been addressed a while ago.”
Straatmann said he and other members of the transportation commission have concerns about how increases in traffic coming to and from the school, particularly school buses, will handle crossing over the divided highway.
The Traffic Commission has requested that members of the Washington School Board and administrators with the school district attend the commission’s meeting later this month to discuss the intersection and traffic flow in and out of the school property.
The new 78,000-square-foot school building will welcome its first students this fall. The building will house up to 600 kindergarten through sixth grade students and cost $18.3 million to build.
On Thursday, O’Connor said he understands why some might be critical of the timeline, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the planning and design activity within the state’s transportation department was halted as spending freezes were implemented across the department.
“It is like we lost an entire year of planning because of COVID-19. The pandemic just put everything on hold,” O’Connor said. He said he and other MoDOT officials have communicated with the consultants at George Butler Associates that one of the top priorities of the study is to evaluate the intersection of St. John’s Road and Highway 100. The new school is located near the intersection of Old Highway 100 and St. John’s Road.
“Once we get the study completed and receive the recommendations, we want to improve that intersection first before we do any other work along the corridor,” O’Connor said during the traffic commission’s meeting Tuesday morning. “It is important to us.”