By Mary Shapiro
Chesterfield area residents are divided on the need for two cooperative projects.
One is the relocation of Highway 141 to the east, between just south of Ladue Road and Olive Boulevard by the Missouri Department of Transportation. The other is the Page-Olive Connector work to connect Highway 141 and the Maryland Heights Expressway, via a new roadway between River Valley Drive and Olive. That project will be conducted by the St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic.
During an open-house style public meeting May 14 at Parkway Central High School in Chesterfield, about 600 area residents looked at maps and other data regarding the plans and were able to ask questions to MoDOT and county engineers and traffic experts.
Raising the new Hwy. 141 and the old Woods Mill Road to avoid creek flooding that has closed the road in the past is an important feature of the work, said Karen Yeomans, west area engineer with MoDOT.
"It will ease congestion, especially around Parkway Central High, and for a lot of subdivisions that come off 141, this will take traffic away and help their access to let (the old Highway 141) be more of a local street," she said.
Old Hwy. 141 will become part of Woods Mill Road.
Yeomans said adding only one more home needs to be bought for the project.
"We plan to build soundwalls on the west side of the relocated Highway 141," Yeomans said. "I know some are concerned that we'll put the new road through a natural area, with a creek, a lot of trees and wildlife. But we have to balance the impact on the environment and taking more homes, which can be a tough call. This route minimizes taking homes, which an expansion of the existing 141 would have done, creating more expense."
Sheryl Hodges, director of the county highway department, said the county's plan displaces only one home and another residence that has a business in it.
"Our plans put people to work in construction - and get people to work, to their jobs, more easily," she said.
Fred and Gloria Goetsch, of River Bend subdivision, support the efforts.
"I feel the MoDOT part will be such a big improvement to get rid of traffic around the high school," Gloria said. "Olive and Woods Mill is such a disaster, and there are so many accidents that it's an absolute mess.
"But we live on a bluff, away from Creve Coeur Mill Road, so the county part doesn't really affect us. I know there will be some people unhappy with the projects, though, including those in subdivisions east of Woods Mill."
Fred said the two agencies "have done an excellent job trying to solve a nasty problem; in the long run, (the projects) will help everybody."
But Nancy Boain, of the Mill Ridge Villas in Chesterfield off Creve Coeur Mill Road, hates the county plan.
"I bought my home nine months ago, and I have four ponds behind me, where I can see wild turkey, deer and geese," she said. "Now, I find the county will be building this highway very close to and level with my house. I paid extra for my home to back up to trees and ponds, so my property values will be going way down. It's very upsetting."
Susan Bastin of River Bend subdivision agreed with Boain.
"I live on the bluff, and I always see deer, turkey and owls," she said. "Now I'll trade that for road noise, I feel the villas never should have been approved by Chesterfield. The new road could just have gone through there. Also, I don't think we need to spend $80 million on this during a recession."
Emory Jackson of Greenfield Village subdivision in Chesterfield said that, though he's now retired, he would have appreciated a plan that would have gotten him to his former job in Bridgeton quickly.
"I know both projects will impact families and properties here," he said. "But I think most people would say these projects are long overdue. I think they'd take a lot of traffic off I-270. And it's incredible now how 141 backs up at rush hours, with people turning to and from Olive. It looks like the plans would alleviate that."
Paul and Gail Nittel, also of Greenfield Village, said they're in favor of the plans.
"I feel they'll keep the cars moving, and I don't see many downsides," Paul said. "I'm glad of the opportunity to get federal funding and get these projects going."
Gail said the plans have the least impact on local homes and businesses.
William Dauster owns Dauster's Greenhouse, 1751 Creve Coeur Mill Road in Chesterfield.
"They say the new county road won't cause Creve Coeur Mill Road flooding, which is my concern," he said. "But I do feel the new road will help traffic, which has gotten a lot worse in recent years."
Two projects, one goal
? The St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic is planning a Page-Olive Connector project to connect Highway 141 and the Maryland Heights Expressway, via a new roadway of two lanes in each direction, between River Valley Drive and Olive Boulevard. Officials said that will relieve traffic congestion on Creve Coeur Mill Road, Fee Fee Road and River Valley. It also will connect two major roads and serve the anticipated development of the Missouri River bottoms.
? The project construction is set to start in the second half of 2010 and be completed in 2012.
? Construction cost is set to be $85 million, and the project received $20 million of that from federal economic stimulus funds and some of the funding from the cities of Chesterfield and Maryland Heights and St. Louis County, as well as participation by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.
? Project information may be found by visiting the website www.stlouisco.com/hwyweb or http://www.page-oliveconnector.org/.
? Comments must be received or postmarked by May 24 to Page-Olive Connector Study Team, Attention John Hicks, St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic, 121 S. Meramec Ave., Clayton, 63105 or eail email@example.com.
? MoDOT plans a Highway 141 relocation. The new road will be three lanes in each direction to match the pavement south of Interstate 64 (Highway 40) on that road. The new road will be to the east of the current location, running under Ladue Road and Olive Boulevard, between just south of Ladue and Olive. The plan, according to officials, will ease traffic congestion, increase safety, reduce noise levels and, by raising the road surface, reduce creek flooding along the old Hwy. 141 (which will become Woods Mill Road) and the new Hwy. 141.
? Project construction is set to start in June 2010 and be completed by fall 2012.
? Construction cost is set to be about $80 million, which includes utility relocation. About $65 million of the total will coming from federal economic stimulus funds, an additional $7 million of MoDOT funding and $8 million from MSD for construction of an MSD trunk sewer.
? Project information can be found at the website www.modot.org/stlouis.
? A "virtual" public meeting, continuing until May 22, is available at the website www.modot.org/stlouis
? Comments must be received by May 24 to Tom Montes de Oca, project manager, Missouri Department of Transportation, 1590 Woodlake Drive, Chesterfield, 63017-5712 or e-mail Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org.
? When the two projects are done, the region will have an expressway reaching from Interstate 55 in Jefferson County to Route 370 in St. Louis County, officials said.