St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann is calling on MoDOT to make improvements to the Interstate 70 corridor. This comes after a study of the busy roadway was put on hold two years ago. But Five on Your Side learned Tuesday that study is about to resume.
Tens of thousands of vehicles travel Interstate 70 each day and in St. Charles County it's the main artery for commerce.
“We've got half of our jobs within a mile either side of I-70. We collect half of our sales tax,” said Ehlmann.
The interstate was started in 1956 and Ehlmann says the growth around the highway has surpassed the improvements to it.
“It was not built to sustain a county with 400,000 people with new homes and businesses coming every day.”
A MODOT study of possible improvements to the roadway was put on hold in 2014 due to a lack of funding. But with President-Elect Donald Trump's reported focus on infrastructure, Ehlmann says the time is now to resume the planning process.
“Even if there's no money to do these things now, we need to do the planning so if money does become available we're ready to go.”
A MODOT planning manager says the department feels the same way. And with a recent bump in funding, the million-dollar study of possible improvements to I-70 from Wentzville all the way to downtown St. Louis should start again this month.
“We start with what are the problems. And that involves looking at the traffic, looking at historical crash data and so forth,” said MODOT’s St. Louis district planning manager Wesley Stephen.
The department says the study could include options for safe access for pedestrians, bicycles and public transit. And it will look at the future of truck traffic on the interstate.
“Does that mean an additional lane each direction? This would be an opportunity to look at that within the limits of this study,” said Stephen.
The study is expected to wrap up in October. Construction on any improvements would depend on approval and funding from local, state and federal agencies.