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Route 109 Improvement Plan: What's Definition of Public Input?

LETTER TO EDITOR: One Wildwood resident says the improvement plan for Missouri Route 109 is really short-sighted, and wonders why public sessions are held if government officials aren't going to take public reactions into account.

Wildwood resident Marc Perez said he attended the latest open house at the Wildwood City Hall regarding the Missouri Route 109 improvement plan, and gave it all some thought. So he sent those observations to Wildwood Mayor Tim Woerther, and said he wasn't thrilled with how the response made him feel.

"This plan is short sighted for the long-term traffic flow on Highway 109. Decades ago, MoDOT proposed a limited access highway for 109 similar to the completed Highway 141 and 170 to the east," states Perez in his letter to Wildwood officials that he also sent to Eureka-Wildwood Patch.

"Both of these highways have demonstrated a marked improvement in traffic flow. Indeed, the growth in the Wildwood/Eureka, and even Franklin County area, to the west will increase over then next two decades. This 'patch' of roadway improvement will not solve the long-term problems of traffic in the region."

Perez said he believes even with the limitations of highway funding dollars, a segmental construction of limited access highway would provide a logical and cost effective management plan, as opposed to "wasting" tax dollars for a plan that does not meet the needs in the 10 to 20 years ahead.

"A long-term plan for 109 from I-44 to I-64 (aka Highway 40) in Chesterfield would no doubt be a more cost-effective solution to the long-term traffic for the region," he stated.

Perez electronically shared the response he received from Woerther:

Marc,

I appreciate your comments and thoughts regarding the proposed plans for Highway 109. Many of the statements that you make are factual and provide a good deal of historical information.

The need for the level of improvement to that of highway 141 or 170 is clearly not warranted. What is needed are safety improvements which address the concerns of residents and help keep vehicles moving at all times of the day.

To address the long-term concerns regarding Highway 109, this work is the first "footprint" which will apply a similar parkway style with additional roundabouts south to the YMCA and north to the southern intersection with BA. This plan will provide for the additional safety improvements in the locations that have the most incidents and improve the flow of vehicles during peak periods of the day. The plan has been adopted by a prior City Council and MoDOT, and this footprint is the first step to implement that plan.

If you have additional questions, please let me know.

Tim Woerther, Mayor - City of Wildwood

Perez said he wonders what the point was of a public information session at the Wildwood City Hall sponsored by Wildwood city officials, MODOT and the design team. "Public comments are welcome; many filled out cards. I elected to send my comments via email to all the aforementioned people and entities," he said.

"My question is:  Does public comment of information enter into the decision making at all?" 

Perez said the quote from Woerther—"The plan has been adopted by a prior City Council and MODOT and this footprint is the first step to implement that plan"—makes him think the public information platform is a total waste. 

"If MODOT and the City Council of Wildwood already made decisions and approved them, was there any validity to public input at all? I and others commented on the "Patch" post of the open house. None of the comments by myself or others were in favor of the plan as presented, and I would imagine some of the comment cards may have reflected similar input," Perez stated via email.

"The deal was done without a public input session period!"

YOUR TURN:  Did you submit suggestions, changes, observations regarding proposed plans for Missouri Route 109 changes? Did you feel your feedback was heard, understood and taken into account? Tell others about your thoughts in the comments' section of this article.

James Terry September 17, 2012 at 11:39 AM
I lead a group in Jefferson County that is called the Highway W/MM Task Force. Highways W and MM are a continuation of 109. Add in Highway M and you have a "highway" that connects Highways 40 and I-55. Our long term goal is an expressway such as Mr. Perez wants. In the short term we have been working with MoDOT to make major safety improvements to both of those roads. We have found them very responsive to public input. They have major adjustments to the plans based on input when possible. MoDOTs problem is they have very little money. They have laid off 1200 people in the past couple of years to save money for the highways as well as closing facilities and selling equipment. Fuel tax money has dried up due to more efficient cars. Federal support is dropping. Something needs to be done to get them the money they need to make improvements for the long term. Thanks, Jim Terry, House Springs
Marc Perez September 18, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Good post Jim. What we need also is for local government to look long term instead of a "patch" to suit their short term desires.

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