North County residents received the first opportunity of several to give their opinions and ideas to the Missouri Department of Transportation for the Interstate 270 study on Thursday at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley.
For the next year, MoDOT will gather comments and ideas from officials, residents and groups on how to improve the I-270 corridor from McDonnell Boulevard to Highway 367.
MoDOT area engineer for North County Larry Welty, along with several other agency representatives, spoke to residents and area officials during the open-house formatted presentation about the corridor and the possibilities of improvement.
Florissant resident Bill Gierse has commuted on I-270 for the past 12 years for his job in Chesterfield. He came out to Thursday’s session after reading about it in the newspaper, and said the traffic flow and condition of the road is something that he’s always concerned about, especially in regards to the evening rush hour traffic.
“There’s so much merging going on and not everyone is good at merging, so you have a backup,” he said.
Gierse said he’s heard speculation about adding lanes to the interstate, but with a growing population in the area, he’s not sure that would be the best solution.
On the other hand, Gierse wouldn’t be opposed to a construction project similar to the Route 367.
“The 367 thing worked out well for that area,” he said. “It’s a little different area than 270. It’s more complicated than 270.”
In late 2006, MoDOT completed a construction project near Route 367 that made the highway uninterrupted to ease congestion as well as establish one-way outer roads surrounding the route.
Although the public meeting asked for residents to come out, very few showed up throughout the three-hour session.
“Things are happening, but people are not here,” Black Jack City Councilman Donald Krank said. “I feel like people need to have more interest in what’s going on.”
Despite a low turnout for the first public meeting, MoDOT spokesperson Marie Elliot said that residents have an open opportunity to learn more about the I-270 North County Study by having everything online for residents, officials and others to see.
“We want people to understand problems, and we want to hear ideas and solutions,” Welty said.
Alongside MoDOT, North County Inc. has served as a major advocacy agent for the study and changes to I-270.
"Our concerns along this corridor include safety and congestion issues, as well as problems with access around the major intersections and on outer roads, which is a factor in attracting appropriate economic development along this major transportation corridor,” North County Inc. President and CEO Rebecca Zoll said. “Major improvements are necessary to meet growing demands. "We look forward to our partnership with MoDOT through this process."