Good Morning. Starting at noon, East-West Gateway staff will begin to answer questions on the draft FY 2018-2021 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and related Air Quality Conformity Determination and Documentation document (AQCD). These documents are available for download at www.ewgateway.org.
The public comment period is through Thursday, August 3, 2017.
Welcome to the online chat for the FY 2018-2021 TIP and AQCD. I’m Jason Lange from East-West Gateway and I’ll be answering questions on these documents until 1 PM today.
East-West Gateway Council of Governments is a voluntary association of local governments. The Council has been designated by the governors of Missouri and Illinois and the U.S. Department of Transportation as the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the St. Louis region to represent the interests of local governments and citizens in the transportation planning process. Since the Council was formed in 1965, it has been dedicated to assisting local governments solve problems across jurisdictional boundaries. It is the only organization of local governments that spans the entire Missouri-Illinois St. Louis region. The Council itself is made up of more than 200 villages, cities, and counties in the eight-county metropolitan area. This includes Madison, Monroe, and St. Clair counties in Illinois and Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles, St. Louis counties as well as the City of St. Louis in Missouri. The agency’s 24-member Board of Directors consists of the area’s chief local elected officials and selected citizens.
The draft FY 2018-2021 TIP has 716 projects at a cost of $2.17 billion. The previous TIP (FY 2017-2020 had 743 projects at a cost of $2.13 billion.
There is no project in this TIP or IDOT’s multi-year plan identified to make improvements at that location. I’ll pass this information along to IDOT.
The TIP is divided into six investment categories: Preserving the existing system (resurfacing/reconstructing roads, repair/replace bridges) makes up the largest percentage at 51% followed up transit category (buses, MetroLink improvements) at 28%. Operational and safety improvements (turn lanes, shoulders, intersection improvements) make up 11%. Capacity adding projects (new roads, new through lanes on existing roads) make up only 3% of the program.
The Hall Street Reconstruction Project limits are from E. Grand to Adelaide. This section of Hall Street is in an industrial area, however, the traffic volumes are very low. The main goal of the project is to reduce roadway flooding and implement features to reduce stormwater runoff and improve stormwater quality. The driving force of the road diet is to reduce the amount of impervious roadway. The lane diet is not being proposed for bicycle accommodations.
Bicycles will be accommodated in the future by providing a graded greenway area on the east side of the road right-of-way between E. Grand and Adelaide. This would provide a future opportunity to build a greenway connection to the North Riverfront Trail from E. Grand, north on Hall Street, and east on Prairie to the North Riverfront Trail.
St. Louis County is currently working on Big Bend South of Manchester to Laclede Stn. Construction bids are due to be opened for the section from Manchester to Delmar sometime in late 2018.
This TIP returns to funding levels similar to five years ago. The TIP five years ago TIP was $2.1 billion. The dip in the middle years reflects when the program was lower due to MoDOT’s 325 system that was adopted during budget shortfalls.
The ONESTL plan includes a section on climate change and resiliency. This plan was developed through a three-year collaborative process led by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments. It provides a regional framework for sustainable development that citizens, non-profit organizations, businesses, and local governments can use to make better use of resources and better meet the aspirations and needs of residents. As partners throughout the region use the plan, they will update and revise it based on what they have learned as they improve their communities.
Transit projects make up nearly 28% of this TIP (almost $606 million). The vast majority of the funding is for maintaining the existing fleet/routes.
Major projects within IDOT’s program include: resurfacing and bridge improvements along I-255 and I-70, improvements to the collector distributor on I-55 in the Poplar Street bridge complex. The collector-distributor is the outside section of roadway with the exits to IL 3/Tudor Avenue. Also, the bridges will be replaced that connect the I-55 ramps to the Martin Luther King Bridge.
MoDOT’s program includes 176 projects at a total cost of nearly $894 million which is $69 million higher than the current program. This includes only the projects in our area of: Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles, and St. Louis Counties as well as the City of St. Louis. Most of the projects involve preserving the existing system. Almost 74% of MoDOT’s program is for preservation projects.
According to Metro, "44 million times a year someone boards a Metro vehicle in the St. Louis region. Nearly every ride is uneventful. However, the handful of serious issues are reported widely in the media. You don’t hear about those who arrive home safely and without incident. Safety concerns around the region, including on Metro, are understandable and that is why we are working with our police partners to ensure the safety of the system, its riders and Metro employees."
Metro employs Public Safety Officers who are responsible for patrolling the system and investigating, and responding to, any incidents of suspicious activity on MetroLink and MetroBus.
Metro also contracts with local law enforcement from the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Clair County for uniformed police officers to patrol Metro property and provide additional security and visibility throughout the system. Undercover police officers are also used to monitor MetroLink and MetroBus service.
East-West Gateway is currently refreshing our 2008 Northside/Southside study. This is important to look at any changes in landuse and to refine the cost estimates. A major change since 2008 is the relocation of the National Geospatial Agency to Jefferson Avenue in North St. Louis.
Supporting public transportation is one of the ten principles in our long-range transportation plan, Connected2045. This plan guides transportation decisions in our region.
Public transit provides a variety of benefits including accessible transportation options for users of all ages and abilities, reduced pollution, reduced energy use, and reduced congestion on roads. All transit systems require some sort of subsidy, even New York City. Public transit benefits the local economy as well as increases access to employment opportunities.
Transit projects and programs are paid for partially through the Federal fuel tax which was last raised by Congress in 1993. The majority of this tax (approximately 83 to 87%) is deposited into the Highway Account, to be used on road construction and maintenance. An additional amount (approximately 11 to 15%) goes to the Mass Transit Account. Highways are also supported with sales taxes, property taxes, and general revenue. Besides farebox collection, transit is also supported through some state revenues and local sales taxes collected in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Clair County, and Madison County. The local sales taxes were approved by popular vote.
Some cities and state departments of transportation have considered removal or reclamation of certain small sections of interstates or freeways. I-44 and I-64 are part of a national highway network that provides for connectivity to move people, goods, and services throughout the nation.
You are quite welcome, Mara.