South County Connector Proposed for Metrolink Corridor Seeks to Address Traffic Congestion

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{a view of the South County Connector study area and possible corridor}

St. Louis County is hoping to find a route for a South County Connector, a road “similar to Forest Park Parkway” to bypass much of the congestion of South Hanley, McCausland, Manchester and other roads. Interstate 170 was originally planned to intersect I-64 and continue south. But then in 1997, faced with strong opposition from communities to be affected by the Interstate expansion, the County withdrew support. However, the idea of adding traffic capacity has not disappeared. Hanley has been widened and a new $50M intersection has been proposed for Hanley at Manchester.

Garry Earls, the county’s chief operating officer stated in the Post-Dispatch, “We have to do something about the high level of traffic.” Of course there’s more than one way to address traffic. Earls does recognize that an improved Big Bend Avenue interchange with I-64 may improve traffic. But why not zone for density instead of chasing sales tax revenue? Isn’t it obvious why traffic is an increasing problem for this area? When you replace single-family homes with Wal-Mart, Lowes and other big box retail traffic will follow. In fact, if a South County Connector is built it will fill with traffic and calls for more roads will likely follow.

One possible route would be the for the new road to largely follow the Metrolink Blue Line and continue south. Why not extend Metrolink south along the River des Peres? Building a new road along the still-new Metrolink would do more to highlight the region’s reluctance to embrace mass transit almost more than the continued rejection of Metro funding by voters.

More from the P-D:

One possibility for that kind of road would connect Laclede Station Road in Maplewood with River des Peres Boulevard in St. Louis, officials have said.

The county on Tuesday received proposals from eight national consulting companies for a study that could lead to a “South County Connector.” The selected consultant would look at that idea — and others — to find the best way to move people through an area generally along Hanley and Laclede Station Roads from Highway 40 to Interstate 55.

The study would take about a year, Garry Earls, the county’s chief operating officer, said Thursday. The county’s request for proposals said the consultant would have until Jan. 1, 2013 to complete an environmental assessment of any proposed project. The county hopes to pick the consultant by Oct. 6 and have the company under contract by the end of the year.

….

The consultant could suggest a route for the connection between River des Peres Boulevard and Laclede Station Road, Earls said. It could go next to the Shrewsbury MetroLink station and the old Laclede Gas storage tank property possibly to join Laclede Station Road at the west end of the Deer Creek shopping center, he said.

….

Companies submitting proposals are PB with CH2MHill, HNTB, URS, Mactec, Hanson, Jacobs, TransSystems and Crawford, Murphy, Tilley.

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