Does it seem that Route 364 in St. Charles County just keeps getting busier and busier during rush hours? If your answer is yes, you are right. Route 364, also known as the Page Extension, recently surpassed Interstate 70 to become the busiest Missouri River bridge-crossing between St. Charles County and St. Louis County during morning and afternoon rush hours. Monday through Friday, approximately 7,900 vehicles per hour use Route 364 during the morning rush; there are nearly 8,400 vehicles per hour in the afternoon. The higher numbers on the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge are the result of the completion of Phase III of the Page Extension two years ago. This phase was accomplished by County and municipal governments providing the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) with half of the funding to complete the project that had been planned for over 25 years.
Travel on Route 364 has steadily increased and continuously surpassed expectations since the 2014 opening of Phase III between Mid Rivers Mall Drive and Interstate 64. Before construction, Phase III was forecasted to carry 2,093 vehicles per hour. Shortly after opening, it was carrying more than twice that number. I shudder to think what the traffic conditions would be like on our other county, state and federal highways today without a completed Route 364.
We have since shifted our attention to Interstate 70, which continues to be the county’s most traveled route on a daily basis. The I-70 Blanchette Bridge carries more than 37 percent of the traffic, compared to 27 percent on the 364 Veterans Memorial Bridge, 22 percent on I-64 Daniel Boone Bridge, and 14 percent on the Highway 370 Discovery Bridge. We have been lobbying MoDOT to restart the I-70 Corridor Study that was suspended when the agency could not project future revenue to complete the project. Our position is that we need to be ready to build when revenues do become available. All of us have seen highway corridors in St. Louis County deteriorate over time and we do not want the same situation to happen in our county. Approximately half of the sales tax is collected and 46 percent of the jobs in St. Charles County exist within one mile on either side of I-70.
With this in mind, the County, the City of St. Charles and MoDOT have teamed to fund the interchange improvements along I-70 at South Fifth Street and Fairgrounds Road. More than 50 percent of the vehicles crossing the Blanchette Bridge during peak evening rush hour traffic exit at Fifth Street or First Capitol Drive. This project is necessary to relieve congestion and better serve the St. Charles Convention Center and private businesses in the area. Like Phase III of Page, the County’s share of this project is funded by the ½ cent Transportation Sales Tax, which voters approved for a third 10-year extension by more than75 percent in 2012.That tax, first enacted in 1985, generates approximately $20 million a year for road improvement projects.
We are also pushing MoDOT to add lanes to I-64 between Highway K and I-70 in our “high-tech corridor.” In addition to having the third biggest economy in the state, St. Charles County is one of the top 25 counties for high-tech job growth in the nation and has a booming manufacturing sector. We also will push for safety improvements along highways N and 61 in the western part of the county. To grow our economy and maintain our standard of living, we will push further transportation improvements to get the trucks to our businesses, the car pools to schools safely and commuters home from work on time for dinner with their families.
In St. Charles County, our residents understand how important excellent road infrastructure is for the growth and viability of our economy. We continue to bring new businesses, jobs, new residents and visitors to our communities because of our forward thinking and strategic planning. My thanks to all of you for your support as St. Charles County continues to be an extraordinary place to live and work.