Fixing 270

7 04 2011

I don’t use I-270 in North St. Louis County as much now as I did last year. Then, my Edwardsville-based job and life necessitated me using it going to and from business trips in central Missouri.

However, MoDOT needs to do something about it. And it finally looks like they’re beginning the thinking stages.

I’m not that much of a roadgeek, but through my first cousin, a native St. Louisan who now lives and works in the Washington, D.C. area, I kinda had a link to the local and national roadgeek community. (Hence the addition of Kim Harvey to my blogroll a few weeks ago.) I know that a former MoDOT engineer Dan Bruno, whom I hear is no longer in St. Louis, was the local MoDOT district’s kinda-sorta liaison to the local roadgeek community. Around ten years ago, he let loose that MoDOT was thinking about converting Dunn and Pershall Roads into one-way outer roads, thereby converting 270 from about Lindbergh to about 367 into a Texas-style freeway. Ironically, 367 itself from 270 northward to about Lindbergh was converted to that configuration a few years ago. The second phase of the Page Avenue Extension in St. Charles County, supplanting Route 94, will be like that. And Highway 40 between Mason Rd and Chesterfield Parkway West has been like that for some time.

One of the main problems with that stretch of 270 now is that Dunn Road is two-way (Dunn predated 270, and was itself a former routing of US 66), and very close to the 270 mainline, meaning that exits from WB 270 onto surface streets or entrances to WB 270 from surface streets in North County involve going on a kamikaze mission, having to cross over the contravening flow of traffic on Dunn. Pershall on the other side of 270 does not have that problem, because it came after 270, and therefore was built such that it meets the surface roads with which 270 has intersections well south of the off and on ramps.  In that, it is a quintessential Missouri two-way South Outer Road.

So we’re back to MoDOT’s study. All I think it is is them finally getting around to what was internal MoDOT speculation a decade ago. Aside from converting Dunn and Pershall to one-way outer roads, thereby eliminating the suicide maneuvers on Dunn, I think the cloverleaf at 270/Lindbergh will be eliminated, converted to either a SPUI or DDI, (Don’t forget that the Ford plant right there is ancient history), and I think there will also be a directional ramp for EB 270 to NB 367. Not out of the question is adding a lane each way on 270 between Lindbergh and 170, and again from 170 to 367. Since 367 is a freeway grade road from 270 north to about Lindbergh, in a Texas-style configuration, they might also rename that I-970.

Even if MoDOT does that, the real big ticket item is east of 367 — The non-expandable Chain of Rocks Bridge and Canal Bridges.  Honestly, 270 needs to be six lanes (three per side) from 367 to at least Route 159 in Edwardsville/Glen Carbon, and perhaps all the way to 55/70 near Troy.  But it’s going to take some serious coin to build a new CoR and Canal Bridges, or retrofit the existing bridges with new bridges.  Getting IDOT to spend money south of Joliet is about as futile as sending a hen to a dentist.  (UPDATE:  IDOT has $103 million programmed over the next five years to replace the Canal Bridges.  I presume those will be wide enough to handle at least three lanes per side comfortably, in advance of the day when the CoR can be replaced or augmented.)

I forgot to add that 270 in West County has been in the news lately.  The secret squirrel gossip surrounding MoDOT, at least from the P-D end, is that they’d add a lane in each direction from 270 from Manchester to 44, in order to do two things:  One, to solve the Big Bend Paradox, i.e. if you’re on SB 270 during evening rush, it’s jammed until the Big Bend exit, then miraculously clears up once you pass it, and two, to give some extra space for NB 270 traffic and 44-to-NB 270 traffic to merge together, which is a big headache every weekday morning.  Several weeks ago, we found out that MoDOT would do that partially, but it would come mostly by means of restriping the lanes to substandard widths, narrower than 12 feet, mainly based on the “success” of the 44 restriping experiment in 2008 and 2009 concurrent with the 40 shutdown.  All I can say to that is that I-44 traffic and I-270 traffic are totally different animals — As it was, the narrower lanes were pretty scary even for the level-headed crowd that uses 44.  Imagine how the whacked out crazies on 270 will take to 11-foot lanes — See the Chain of Rocks Bridge for that.

UPDATE 9 PM: The aformentioned Kim Harvey rings in with her recommendations, and some fascinating corridor history.



2 responses

7 04 2011
What I really think needs to be done to 270 NoCo | kharvey10

[…] Finally, MoDOT spills the beans on the long rumored public meeting date for the Highway 270 North County corridor this morning via Twitter.   I been long been on their butts on this for many years, because I got relatives that live in the area and know others that work there.  A fellow blogger known as Countenance and I had several tweets today in regards to this news.   His opinion on this news is here. […]

27 07 2011
Fixing 270, Part 2 « Countenance Blog

[…] know I already advanced some ideas for fixing 270 in North County and Madison County, but after reading that Alton Telegraph story, I started asking […]

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