Why didn’t MoDOT put Metrolink down the middle of I-64 when they rebuilt the corridor between 2007-2009?
The East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGCOG), the planning agency for the entire St. Louis region, studied and approved the plans for MetroLink from downtown to Clayton in 1997 and from Clayton to Chesterfield in 1999. The approved routes do not use I-64, but are located north of I-64. The Clayton to Shrewsbury MetroLink line, which opened in August 2006, runs north of I-64 along Forest Park Parkway to Clayton and then south along I-170 terminating at I-44 in Shrewsbury. The other study identified a future West County line that would extend from Clayton to Page near Westport Plaza and eventually to Chesterfield Valley. Currently, there is no funding in place for any of these options. For more information about how transportation options are planned for the region, visit www.ewgateway.org. For information on current MetroLink or MetroBus lines, please visit www.metrostlouis.org.
Missouri and Illinois coordinated on the project to construct the I-70 Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge. The Poplar Street Bridge carried three interstates (I-55, I-64 and I-70) and was routinely congested during morning and evening rush periods (with delays of up to 45 minutes at times). Besides making improvements to MetroLink in Illinois, local planners determined that an additional river crossing was needed to remove one interstate from the PSB. The intent of the Stan Musial Project was to remove one of those three interstates (I-70) to the north. The full I-70 bridge project (four lanes in each direction with full connections to the north and south and I-70 relocated to the north) was projected to cost well over $2 billion. Even with the $239 million appropriation received from the Federal Government, neither Illinois nor Missouri could afford to construct the full build-out. However, to meet the immediate need for an additional river crossing, the two states decided to construct the project in stages. The first stage would construct a bridge with two lanes in each direction, with connections to the north. The bridge would be wide enough to restripe to three lanes if traffic levels continued to increase. Finally, if traffic levels continued to rise and funding was determined/available; a four-lane companion bridge would be constructed to the south of the existing bridge, which would have the connections to the south. Including the connections to the south in the first phase would back up both eastbound and westbound I-70 traffic, and those connections would have to be removed in any full build-out. As constructed, (since I-55, I-64 and I-70 all merge in Illinois), the two bridges (Stan Musial and PSB) act as one large interchange. Traffic heading to or from the north in St. Louis would use the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge and traffic heading to or from the south in St. Louis would use the PSB. Traffic would be able to get into downtown St. Louis from either bridge.
Crews renovated the westbound portion of the bridge, which was built in the late 1950's. Themajor rehabilitation was completed in 2012. During that time, the eastbound bridge carried both the eastbound and westbound traffic. Without those repairs, emergency repairs would have possibly been required at more frequent internals with longer closures. The westbound bridge is only being utilized during the current construction to keep traffic flowing while the eastbound bridge is repaired. The last major repairs to eastbound bridge were joint replacements in 2006.
MoDOT has to balance the impact of the project to commuters and residents as well as the cost of the project. Shortening the amount of time a project would take will significantly impact both the cost and how much impact there is to the drivers. In many cases, due to availability of materials and the type of work to be done, increasing the number of workers will not reduce the time (or the impact) of the project significantly. Like baking bread, there are often tasks on the project which must be done in a certain order and with certain timing to meet the standards of quality that the residents of Missouri desire. The department strives to maintain the balance between cost, impact and time in an effort to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
MoDOT maintains the interstates and state numbered and lettered roadways across Missouri. In the greater St. Louis area, the department maintains more than 1,600 miles of road –most of those roadways with more than one lane in each direction. Many of those roads carry a lot of vehicles, and many routes have heavy truck traffic, which has an effect on the roadway. Like a house, roadways need regular maintenance; however, the department has several different options when it comes to the various repairs or preventative maintenance it uses on the roadway. Department experts evaluate the roadways and propose the appropriate treatment for each road, based on what the roadway needs. The organization attempts to manage the maintenance for all of the roadways the department maintains, making sure that each roadway and bridge gets worked on when it needs it, and only as much as the roadway or bridge needs.
Why didn’t MoDOT remove the elevated section of the interstate through downtown during the work around the Arch grounds.
Possible projects such as the grassroots proposal to remove the interstate through downtown require regional interest – East-West Gateway Council of Governments oversees regional planning, bringing MoDOT, IDOT, the city and each of the counties on either side of the river to the table to review and implement any transportation plans. One of the goals behind the regional oversight is to ensure that the projects one entity plans doesn’t have a significant adverse effect on the others. There was no interest, regionally, in removing one of the two major north-south interstates in the greater St. Louis area and replacing it with the proposed, at grade boulevard. Currently, up to 90,000 vehicles use sections of the interstate between the Poplar Street Bridge and the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge each weekday. The elevated section of the interstate helps ensure that traffic between the city and the riverfront flows relatively smoothly with little to no delay. Removing the elevated portion of the interstate and incorporating those vehicles into the city grid would significantly increase delays into and out of the downtown area, interfere with bike and pedestrian traffic heading to the Gateway Arch Park grounds, and hamper the flow of traffic from people heading to and from work in the greater St. Louis area.
The department receives anywhere up to 30 claims a day for incidents on interstates and state numbered and lettered routes – the roadways MoDOT maintains. Commonly, people file claims for damage caused by potholes, road debris, falling signs, signal malfunctions and wet paint. The department’s liability is based on state law: Missouri Revised Statute 537.600 states the department is not legally liable for a hazard unless it had sufficient time and knowledge to take measures. That means that MoDOT must determine that the damage was caused by willful negligence for a customer to be reimbursed for expenses. Claims may be filed online and are analyzed, processed and submitted to a claims adjuster in Jefferson City for investigation. Typically customers receive a response within two business days. In construction zones, since the prime contractor is responsible for the maintenance of the roadway within the construction zone during their contract, the claim is sent to the contractor for review and consideration under their rules.
Does the new David Hoekel Parkway interchange over I-70, west of Wentzille Parkway in St. Charles County, have enough room for any future I-70 expansion?
Yes, the project can support an expansion of I-70 to three 12-foot lanes in both directions with shoulders. This is also the case with all other new construction in St. Charles, Warren and Montgomery counties. If MoDOT can get a design exception for narrow shoulders, the department could expand I-70 to four lanes in each direction. The parkway is a result of a locally driven Environmental Assessment completed in 2014 with a Finding of No Significant Impact. Learn more about the project at: https://www.wentzvillemo.org/departments/public_works/david_hoekel_parkway_phase_2_i-70_interchange.php. The Improve I-70 First Tier Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was completed in 2001. It considered approaches for improving safety and travel efficiency. The conclusion of the study was that a minimum of 6 travel lanes across the state were needed. The Improve I-70 Second Tier EIS was completed in 2006. It consists of more detailed analysis including environmental impacts. The study estimated the cost of improving I-70 in 2005 dollars would be $3 billion from Independence to Lake St. Louis.
The section of Interstate 70 that could be constructed separately that would have the greatest impact on St. Louis is section 7 (SIU-7) from just west of Route 19 (near New Florence to Lake St. Louis Boulevard. That section is approximately 40 miles in length. The study called for up to eight travel lanes from two miles west of Route 47 to Lake St. Louis Boulevard based on the traffic model available at the time. Following the 2008 recession, traffic growth slowed, and East West Gateway updated the region’s long-range transportation plan accordingly with a project for the expansion of I-70 to 6 travel lanes from Missouri Route T / W on the west to the U.S. Route 61 / I-64 / I-70 interchange on the east. A Supplemental EIS was completed in 2009 which explored the addition of truck only lanes. It did not invalidate the prior work of the Tier I or Tier II EISs. Although the majority of the truck only lanes reconstruction of the highway would fit within the expanded limits of the Tier II EIS, 56 additional acres would need to be acquired in SIU 7. All I-70 cross sections, located in St. Charles, Warren and Montgomery counties could accommodate eight traffic lanes if design exceptions were granted for narrow shoulders. Currently, only four traffic lanes exist on these sections of I-70.