This year, the St. Charles County Council went about the business of updating how it will spend millions of dollars to pay for road improvements that enhance how goods and people travel more efficiently and safely. The result is the county’s Transportation Improvement Plan [TIP] for 2019 to 2021, which was approved at the council’s Nov. 26 meeting.
The TIP will provide more than $27 million in county funds to help build more than $46 million in improvements. Those improvements also will receive federal, state and municipal funding.
Local TIP funding comes from the voter-approved half-cent transportation sales tax, which has provided about $650 million to help build almost $1.3 billion in transportation improvements since its passage.
Updated annually, TIPs provide more than lists of projects and funding totals; it also provides numbers and data that increasingly are used in showing the movement of people and goods in and through the county – pictures that will help officials decide how transportation sales tax money will be spent.
Along with a list of about 80 projects, the numbers and statistics in the 2019-21 TIP are putting a focus on both good things and problem spots in county transportation.
A 12-member Road Board evaluates applications for project funding from the County Highway Department and municipalities and recommends to the county executive and council what projects should receive funding. The data the Road Board staff collects may become an influence to the Road Board.
The TIP data shows some of the most congested areas of the county and a list of some of the most dangerous.
“Knowing where the highest crash rates are [allows us] to focus in on those points,” said Amanda Brauer, manager for the Road Board. “We may go to the cities and say, ‘Hey, we would like you to do a project here. Let’s figure something out.’”
Among the TIP data collected is the top 10 signalized intersection crash locations for the period between 2014 and 2016. No. 1 on that list is Route K at its connection to Interstate 70’s eastbound ramps, the site of 212 crashes, 54 injuries and 158 vehicles damaged but no fatalities.
Next is Wentzville Parkway and West Pearce Boulevard in Wentzville with 135 crashes during the data collection period. That site had 19 injuries and 116 vehicles damaged but no fatalities.
The interchange rated third is Zumbehl Road at the eastbound I-70 ramp with 130 crashes, 20 injuries, 110 vehicles damaged and no fatalities. No. 4 is Route K at Feise and Laura Hill roads with 130 crashes, 29 injuries and 101 vehicles damaged.
Ranked fifth is First Capitol Drive [Hwy. 94] at West Clay Street with 128 crashes, 12 injuries and 116 vehicles damaged. No. 6 is Hwy. 94 at Pralle Lane in St. Peters with 120 crashes, one fatality, 15 injuries and 104 vehicles damaged.
The intersection of Mid Rivers Mall Drive at Mexico Road was ranked seventh with 117 crashes, 24 injuries, 93 damaged vehicles and no fatalities.
Mid Rivers Mall Drive at Suemandy Drive in St. Peters was ranked eighth with 110 crashes, 14 injuries and 96 vehicles damaged. Ranked ninth was Route K at Route N with 110 crashes, 23 injuries and 87 vehicles damaged.
Rounding out the top 10 list is Mid Rivers Mall Drive at Route 364 northbound with 101 crashes, 31 injuries and 70 vehicles damaged.
Brauer said these interchanges, however, may not be the deadliest areas for auto crashes in the county. That may be along the interstates. A crash “heat map” uses red coloring to suggest locations with the highest density of accidents. Brauer said the map suggests that the majority of crashes are along I-70 followed by Route K and Hwy. 94.
Another study that could be done by the end of this year as part of the Gateway Green Light of St. Charles County will look at 2017 and 2018 data and establish goals in dealing with traffic congestion and delays.
The TIP did provide some good news about county interstates and residential and arterial roads, Brauer said during a report on the TIP to the council at its Nov. 26 meeting. For example, it noted that pavement conditions for residential, collector and arterials streets are in good shape and only two bridges in the county are rated in poor shape.
According to the report, traffic growth has occurred throughout the county between the years of 2012-2017, with the highest percentage of growth in the western part of the county, especially within Wentzville.
Annual average daily traffic growth suggests the completion of Route 364 may have prompted the highest freeway increases in the county along segments of Route 364, ranging from 11,500 vehicles per day to more than 20,500. Route 364 from Muegge to Harvester, roughly 2.21 miles, saw an increase from 29,897 vehicles per day in 2012, to 50,439 in 2017 – a 69-percent jump. The Route 364 completion likely had an impact on the growth of eastbound Hwy. 94. Segments of Hwy. 94 near I-64 saw traffic volume increases from 3,500 vehicles daily to more than 10,000.