By MITZI LOWERY
At its Jan. 15 meeting, the Dardenne Prairie Board of Aldermen held a public hearing to discuss the city’s plan to rename a section of state Hwy. N within the Town Square retail district to Town Square Avenue.
Since no one spoke in opposition to or in favor of the plan, the board closed the hearing and, during its business meeting, passed an ordinance in favor of renaming that portion of Hwy. N. Additionally, the board amended existing traffic control sections of the municipal code that mentioned Hwy. N, such as authorizing a stop sign or traffic light at the intersection of Merz Farm Lane and Hwy. N to now be known as Merz Farm Lane and Town Square Avenue.
The renaming of Hwy. N, as it passes through Town Square, is part of a long-range plan to improve recognition of and access to that retail and business district. Included in the city’s plan are improvements in access to and from Route 364.
The Route 364 Design Project to create access to and from Route 364, both eastbound and westbound in the vicinity of Town Square, has been in the works for almost a year. The design concept, known as a “folded diamond,” would connect at Technology Drive.
Presently, eastbound drivers can get on Route 364 at Technology Drive but must exit at Bryan Road and double-back to Town Square using Town Square Avenue. Westbound drivers can exit Route 364 at Henke Road [where Technology Drive and Henke and Feise roads meet] but cannot get back on Route 364 to go west.
This folded diamond intersection would make Town Square and nearby destinations easily accessible for both eastbound and westbound drivers. However, because its design affects a state highway, the city of Dardenne Prairie must have approval from MoDOT.
MoDOT conferred with the Federal Highway Administration [FHA] to see if that entity had any concerns regarding the project’s impact on Interstate 64. In the summer of 2019, the FHA said there was no impact concern; however, recently the FHA notified MoDOT that they were revisiting that judgment. If the FHA decides this project impacts I-64, the city would have to submit an Access Justification Report [AJR] for review and approval by FHA.
Mayor David Zucker explained that AJR reports are expensive to prepare due to the engineering required. The city believes the requirement to produce an AJR would add a year to the review and approval process.
According to Zucker, there is a long-range plan, or notion, that someday the I-64/Route 364 interchange would be redesigned and modified with flyover ramps, a.k.a. the “64 flyover to 364.” However, if that flyover exit ramp were to be built it might interfere with the folded diamond interchange. Therefore, the city met with MoDOT the week of Jan. 24 to discuss the matter further.