Its unveiling was modest – a few people along with local public transportation officials gathered in the Normandy City Hall on March 30, viewing charts and maps on which a few posted sticky notes with written comments.
But this quiet first public meeting on the restart of the Interstate 70 corridor belies its significance. Over the next year, St. Charles and St. Louis county municipal and county government officials and the area’s three major transportation agencies will be developing what some say is a vision for the future of one of the area’s major transportation routes.
The Envision I-70 Planning and Environmental Linkages Study is expected to look at a variety of transportation, economic, environmental and safety issues along a 40-mile long, half-mile wide corridor. The corridor extends from Wentzville to downtown St. Louis.
‘We want to get a vision for the whole corridor and have a plan so when municipalities want to do something, businesses want to come in and do something – an intersection or section of highway – we have a plan for the entire corridor,” said Laura Ellen, a Missouri Department of Transportation [MoDOT] planner helping to coordinate the study.
For a while, the study looked dead. The study was shut down in 2014 because MoDOT lacked of funding. MoDOT and the East-West Gateway Council of Governments came up with $1.5 million to resurrect the study in last December. St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann and other area officials pushed hard for its resurrection.
Ellen said the result, at the end of this year, will include recommendations for breaking the corridor into sections.
“That’s one of the key outcomes of the study,” Ellen said, “to know what sections we can build so we can start developing further projects as the funding becomes available.”
Ehlmann and others have said the study is critical because the Trump administration has signaled that additional federal money may be available for infrastructure projects that are “shovel ready.”