It’s really hard to get out on Route N south of Wentzville. Just ask Dee Twillman, who, with her husband, Don, has lived near routes N and Z for 20 years.
“They’ll be lined up at [Route] Z probably a couple of miles,” Don Twillman said. “It’s longer than that,” Dee corrected.
The Twillmans were one of a number of residents living near Route N who turned out for a two-hour open house on Nov. 13 to learn more about a planned study to examined a nine-mile long, one- to two-mile wide portion of Route N from west of South Point Prairie Road to the Interstate 64-Route 364 interchange. That study may go a long way toward determining what that portion of Route N looks like in the future and what potential road improvements go there.
Until a few years ago, Route N bordered farmers’ fields and pastures. The two-lane highway, built in 1960, now serves a growing residential and commercial area south of Wentzville.
St. Charles County officials agreed in January to spend $1.5 million in county road funds for the study, which may help jump-start the process of making road improvements along Route N.
Andrew Tureck, Missouri Department of Transportation [MoDOT] area engineer for St. Charles County, was clear: It is the county’s study. Tureck and other MoDOT personnel assisted with staffing at the open house, which drew about 50 people to Liberty High in Lake Saint Louis. Environmental studies like this one involve “a heavy dose of public involvement,” Tureck said.
Residents in attendance were encouraged to write suggestions for Route N on adhesive notes and stick them to large maps of the road and its surrounding area. The maps soon were festooned with sticky notes suggesting traffic lights, turning lanes and new lanes. Tureck said from that input comes other studies on issues, such as land use trends, that eventually lead to specific road improvements.
“We can’t just be in the speculation business,” he said. The completed study could provide the justification for what MoDOT and the county do in improving Route N.
The open house was an inaugural event of the study, which began in August 2018 and is expected to take 14 to 18 months to complete. Another public meeting is planned for spring 2019, followed by a public hearing in late 2019 with the study ending in early 2020. The Federal Highway Administration will review a final environmental assessment document that is necessary to obtain federal funding for transportation improvements.
Many at the meeting had the same concerns as the Twillmans – in a word, traffic.
Daily traffic on this portion of Route N ranges from fewer than 5,500 vehicles west of Route Z to more than 18,000 vehicles west of US-40/I-64.
The study will develop options for improvements and analyze them for them for their environmental impacts on parks, wetland, rivers and streams, and look at impacts on neighborhoods and communities. One impact is that the Route N study area includes portions of three growing cities – Wentzville, Lake Saint Louis and O’Fallon along with an unincorporated area of St. Charles County.
Some residents asked if Route N would become a four-lane road. The Twillmans said traffic seems to have gotten worse following the completion of the final extension of Route 364.
St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann said in January that the county footing the bill for the study may help in developing solutions and road improvement plans sooner without having to wait for the state to find money for the study. Tureck said MoDOT funding issues have prevented making Route N a priority.