Traffic flow on the I-70 outer roads through O’Fallon has long met with concern from business owners and drivers alike. But proposed I-70 outer road improvements recived mixed reaction from those who attended a public information meeting on Oct. 13.
The projected improvements run from Woodlawn Avenue to T.R. Hughes Boulevard, and construction is projected to begin in late spring of 2017, according to Jeff Schuepfer, O’Fallon’s senior project manager.
Those improvements include:
• Constructing a new South Outer Road from Hwy. K to T.R. Hughes Boulevard.
• Converting the existing two-way North Outer Road into a one-way westbound outer road.
• Relocating the ingress and egress ramps between Hwy. K and T.R. Hughes Boulevard.
• Constructing noise barriers along I-70.
• Constructing a third southbound lane and multi-use bike/pedestrian path on Hwy. K, from I-70 to a point approximately 1,000 feet south of the intersection of Veteran’s Memorial Parkway and Hwy. K.
In addition, Schuepfer said the city plans to construct a “Texas U-Turn” at the intersection of Hwy. K and I-70 that would connect westbound North Outer Road to eastbound South Outer Road.
“This is one of our big project perks that we have to help get more of that free-flowing traffic, where you can go from the North Outer Road to the South Outer Road without having to sit through two traffic lights,” Schuepfer said. “With the current roadway system, the biggest issue we have is congestion at Hwy. K and South Main Street.”
According to O’Fallon’s website, the cost of the project is estimated at $16 million. As of April 2015, the project was fully funded by a combination of money from the County Road Board, the Missouri Department of Transportation and the East-West Gateway Council of Governments. O’Fallon also is funding $1.2 million of the project, all of which will be used to address improvements along Hwy. K.
The project’s scope has changed slightly as time has passed, according to Schuepfer.
“Initially, and I’m going back six or so years ago, we were just looking at interchange improvements here at I-70 and K and Main Street,” Schuepfer said. “But over time the project evolved, basically to a one-way outer road project.”
Public Works Director Steve Bender said the projected improvements also had been planned to extend to Bryan Road; however, the scope of the project was decreased to its current dimensions. He said that change was the cause for this latest public meeting.
“That’s why we’re doing this, to let the public know that it is different and to get more feedback,” Bender said.
The proposed improvements make up Phase 1 of the project. A later Phase 2 is expected to follow, though no funding for that phase has been allocated, according to Schuepfer.
Heather Frew, who owns a business located at the northwest corner of Main Street and I-70, said she thinks the city should wait and complete the entire project in one fell swoop.
“If we don’t have the funding to do the whole thing, then it needs to wait until we have the funding to do the whole thing,” Frew said.
Councilmember Mike Pheney (Ward 5) said he had heard from residents both for and against the project.
“Some are for it and some aren’t. Everyone is waiting to see if it really will work,” Pheney said.
O’Fallon staff collected comment sheets from residents at the meeting. Bender said the city would try to incorporate their suggestions moving forward.