S.O.S. is Making Headway in Getting Support for Shoulders

   December 4, 2009

   by Dianne Sudbrock

The S.O.S. (Shoulders fOr Safety) group is making headway in their attempt to get shoulders constructed on Highways D, DD, F, Z and 94. The public meeting in New Melle on October 22, 2010 was very well attended and definitely got the attention of elected officials. Since that meeting, members of the S.O.S. group have remained in contact with state and local elected officials and MoDOT representatives who attended the meeting, and have initiated contacts with Missouri ’s U.S. Congressional representatives.
County Executive Steve Ehlmann was quoted in a St. Louis Post Dispatch article on October 31 indicating cost sharing funds could be available from a county sales tax dedicated to transportation. MoDOT Area Engineer, Jim Gremaud, said he believes improvements to Highways like D, DD, F and 94 are good candidates for a cost sharing because MoDOT has already targeted the roads for improvement.  The major hold up is finding funding. 
On Monday, November 16, members of the SOS group met with Doug Weible, President and C.O.O. of Materials Services for Fred Weber, Inc. Weible said Fred Weber would be willing to contribute (an unspecified amount of) rock and asphalt to help get the projects done. The group has also contacted LaFarge, Inc. (owners of the quarry on Hwy. DD) and are hopeful that LaFarge will be able to provide some cost sharing as well.

The Boone Country Connection
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Dianne Sudbrock, Editor and Publisher

Members of S.O.S. have attended a St. Charles County Council Meeting, a St. Charles Planning and Zoning Meeting, an East West Gateway Council Meeting (which is the governing body that determines which state road projects in the St. Louis region, including St. Charles County, get funded and when), and a Regional Missouri Department of Transportation Meeting in St. Charles on Dec. 2.

Cheryl Coleman, one of the organizers of the S.O.S. group said, “We want all of these government officials to realize what a danger these roads are. They need to be a priority in the allocation of funding. That’s what we’re hoping to get through to them.”

Coleman said there have been 196 accidents on those state highways (D, DD, Z, F and 94) on the Missouri state highway patrol website since Jan. 1, 2009 . Nine of them were fatalities; that’s 36% of the total fatalities in St. Charles County in through November 18, 2009 . The area houses about 7% of the county’s population. S.O.S. member, Anne Womack said, “Statistically, that’s stunning.”

A combination of factors contribute to the problem: commercial truck traffic from two area quarries, residential traffic, a heavy deer population, difficult terrain and narrow lanes with no shoulders. Some say driver inattention is the problem. People need to be more careful and avoid using their cell phones when driving. While that is true, the fact remains there is no room for defensive drivers to take any evasive action to avoid an impending collision. Often there are only two choices: veer off into a ditch, creek or ravine; or collide with an oncoming vehicle.

A project to add shoulders to Hwy. DD from Hwy. 40 south to Frontier Middle school was previously funded and will be completed in 2010. MoDOT has also completed preliminary design work to add shoulders to Hwy. 94 from Hwy. 40 to Defiance and has begun design work for adding shoulders to Hwy. D and Hwy. DD, but there is no funding to complete the construction at this time. Funding for state highways comes from a state gasoline tax and is allocated by the East West Gateway Coordinating Council.  Gremaud said if funding becomes available, MoDOT would most likely look at doing the work in 3.5 to 5 miles segments.