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New Route 364 interchange at Gutermuth Road expected to ease traffic congestion

A new interchange on Route 364 at Gutermuth Road is expected to lessen traffic congestion on nearby roads and in Cottleville, providing new access on and off Route 364, and possibly opening up more land for development.

Cottleville Mayor Jim Hennessey said whenever there is a new interchange, business is going to move in. There already are tentative plans for gas stations and Hennessy said land near the interchange may be built up. He said he had not yet heard plans for major new developments, but property owners in the area are looking at options.

“You get an interchange off a highway like that, you’re going to do whatever you can,” Hennessey said.

An open house on the possible design for the interchange was held on March 8. The meeting allowed the public to view large-scale maps and discuss the project with St. Charles County and Missouri Department of Transportation officials. Officials from the engineering consultant on the project, GBA Inc., and Cottleville also were available to answer questions.

The proposed interchange is intended to reduce traffic congestion at the Mid Rivers Mall Drive and Hwy. K interchanges on Route 364 by providing a new access to Route 364 within a 4.4 mile stretch between Mid Rivers Mall Drive and Hwy. K, where there isn’t one now.

Half the cost of the $9 million interchange is being picked up by St. Charles County. MoDOT is expected to provide $3 million and the Federal Highway Administration is expected to provide $1.5 million.

The way the cost is divided in this case is unusual because, in the past, federal and state funds have provided the bulk of the money for major highway and road projects. Previously, the federal and state’s shares often amounted to picking up 90 percent of a project’s cost. The lack of state funding has made it difficult for the state to provide the funds needed to obtain matched federal funding.

The county has stepped in to provide more of its own money for a number of major road projects in recent years. The county used its half-cent transportation sales tax funding to help pay for the completion of the final leg of Route 364 and, most recently, $1.5 million for an environmental assessment study along Hwy. N. The sales tax, approved by county voters, is used largely to fund local road improvement projects.

The intersection and new road work are expected to include the interchange and extend 1,300 feet along Gutermuth Road and 3,900 feet along Route 364.

The work also is expected to include new on- and off-ramps on Route 364, as well as new acceleration and deceleration lanes, retaining walls and sound walls, interchange lighting and signage, and roundabouts.

Chris Bostic, project manager for the St. Charles County Highway Department,  said the interchange will not require acquisition of homes or businesses, although some rights-of-way will need to be acquired. He agreed that the interchange may not only improve traffic flow but also provide economic benefits along Mid Rivers Mall Drive and Hwy. K.

“Sometimes, it gets so congested that nobody wants to go there and shop anymore,” Bostic said.

Bostic said public comments and the open house generally were supportive, although nearby Cottleville residents are worried about traffic speeds and the difficulty of turning into and exiting driveways. Comments are being taken at the county highway department until Thursday, March 22.

Design work on the project is expected to be completed by late 2018 with completion projected for late 2019 or early 2020.

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