Study Could Lead to Another Road in Maplewood
The South County Connector project will identify traffic alternatives.
The St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic asked residents for feedback about the South County Connector, an environmental impact statement (EIS) and location study, which aims to improve connectivity within Maplewood, Shrewsbury and Webster Groves.
The EIS must be completed and approved before a connector project would be eligible for federal funding. Completion of the EIS is expected by early 2013. Construction could begin within 5-to-10 years once funding is secured.
The project is bounded by Manchester Road to the north; Hanley and Laclede Station roads to I-44 to the west; Murdoch Avenue and Watson Road to the south; and Big Bend Boulevard and River Des Peres to the east.
The study is intended to identify an alternative to improve connectivity within these areas, as well as to Interstates 44; 64; 55; and 170. Additionally, the project will address reducing traffic congestion, increasing roadway capacity and the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians.
Alternatives evaluated will include a 'no-build' benchmark; transportation system management options, such as mass transit, high-occupancy vehicle lanes and ride-sharing; and build alternatives, which have yet to be developed.
But attendees of the open house held at the Affton White-Rodgers Community Center said they were disappointed by the lack of specifics presented by the department.
Cathy Edmond, an attendee who lives in Maplewood, said she thought there was some distrust among attendees regarding the process.
"I think there's a sense that maybe some of this stuff has already been decided," she said. "I hope they take our input. We have terrible infrastructure in St. Louis, and something needs to be done."
David Rhone, the county transportation department spokesman, said it's too early in the process to speculate on how individual communities or neighborhoods may be impacted by any alternatives, because none have been identified yet.
"Right now, (the connector) is a premise, not a definite idea," Rhone said.
John Hicks, a transportation development analyst with the department, said feedback collected from residents at the open house would be assessed, as well as field data and feedback from other stakeholder meetings that will be held in the coming months. Then, another public forum will be held in early spring to present specific alternatives to the public.
"There's still lots to do," he said.
The St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic is sponsoring the project in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, which has final approval authority for the project.
Beth Suda contributed to the story.