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Study looks at Birdie Hills extension

St. Charles County is spending $259,000 to study a possible extension of Birdie Hills Road with a possible interchange on Interstate 364 as a way to cut traffic congestion along the interstate and in downtown Cottleville.

The County Council approved awarding the engineering study to George Butler and Associates, Inc., but not before pulling it off the meeting’s consent agenda at the request of Councilmember Joe Cronin (District 1).  Consent agenda items often are routinely approved.

Cronin said extending Birdie Hills from where it ends to I-364 might take a number of houses and asked if nearby residents supported that.

County Executive Steve Ehlmann said there is no assumption that the study would take houses. The study would look at alternatives for possibly extending Birdie Hills to a new interchange and the relocation of a portion of nearby Gutermuth Road.

An extension would allow Birdie Hills and nearby residents to travel south and get on I-364 without going through town, Ehlmann said. The study would determine if houses needed to be taken and costs.

Ehlmann said the city of Cottleville was supportive and had done some studies earlier. The study would analyze alternatives and give officials more information to make a future decision.  “There are a whole of lot of different options,” Ehlmann said.

John Greifzu, director of the county’s Road Board, told the council that the Mid-Rivers Mall Drive and Hwy. K intersections on I-364 are congested with no interchanges in the 3 miles between them.  Downtown Cottleville also is congested.

“If you have been in downtown Cottleville at all around anywhere from 3 o’clock in the afternoon until 6 p.m. in the evening or in the morning conversely you would realize that it’s a mess,” said Don Boehmer, the county’s assistant director of administration and intergovernmental affairs.

Boehmer said traffic congestion increases when St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Cottleville, which is one of the largest parishes in the St. Louis Archdiocese, starts and ends its school day.

The board approved the study, although at least one councilmember said the materials given the council didn’t help him make a decision.

“It makes sense with the explanation,” said Councilmember Mike Klinghammer (District 6).

But Klinghammer said more information should have been included in the council’s meeting packet.

“There wasn’t enough here to vote in my opinion,” he said.

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