city traffic

What’s the No. 1 problem in Franklin County right now? Ask 10 different people, and you are likely to get 10 different answers.

But one of the foremost problems, in our view, is the traffic congestion on our county roadways — especially on Highway 47 and sections of highways 100 and 50.

Route A between Union and Washington is another concern.

The most pressing traffic congestion problem is on Highway 47 between Washington, Union and St. Clair. That’s not just our view; we hear the same complaints regarding the traffic delays on this frequently used thoroughfare from our readers all the time.

Unfortunately, the congestion issues on highways and roadways in Franklin County are only going to get worse as planned developments come online and traffic volume increases.

The small increase in revenue from the state gasoline tax — which goes into effect Oct. 1 — will benefit the state, counties and cities, but it won’t remedy all of the transportation needs throughout Missouri or Franklin County. The increase will start with a 2.5-cent-per-gallon hike and rise annually for the next five years.

That was the message Missouri Department of Transportation Director Patrick McKenna delivered in an interview with this newspaper this past week.

MoDOT is doing the best it can with limited revenue. The same is true in most counties and cities. To be sure, if the House passes the $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill, millions of additional dollars will flow to our state and county.

But even with the additional revenue from the state gas tax and federal infrastructure bill, it’s still not clear there will be enough funding to widen Highway 47 to four lanes for the entire 13-mile stretch from Washington to St. Clair anytime soon. That project also could run as high as $175 million, according to planning officials.

That’s a lot of dough. And it isn’t the only needed transportation improvement project in our region. But it is illustrative of the problem with all of the state’s unfunded transportation needs. There are more needed projects than available funding. Ours isn’t the only county with serious infrastructure issues. Because we’ve ignored this problem for so long, the deferred project list has multiplied — and that’s true across the state.

Moreover, even though it enjoys bipartisan support, there are no guarantees the federal infrastructure bill will pass the House. For years, Congress failed to agree on a comprehensive infrastructure plan, which supporters in both parties say is absolutely needed and would boost the economy and create jobs. But in this era of politics, there are no sure things.

So one of the chief problems in our region — traffic congestion — is probably going to get worse before it gets better, something you would rather not think about when you are stuck in traffic on Highway 47 during rush hour.