The I-70 Fifth Street Interchange Improvements Project deadline was met before Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday shopping season. While there are a few construction and landscaping items to complete by spring 2017, the majority of this massive project is complete – which is amazing considering that construction started in March 2016. Thanks to city, County and state cooperation, this project was accomplished, and the improvements will benefit the area in a number of ways.
There is substantial research and planning that goes into large-scale construction projects to determine an effective design, and the I-70 Fifth Street Interchange Improvements Project is no exception. Considering that more than 50 percent of traffic coming to St. Charles County exits at Fifth Street and First Capitol Drive during peak travel times, this design needed to improve flow of vehicles in the area to mitigate bottlenecks and backups and improve safety. The project also was a key piece in linking and maximizing the effectiveness of several recent roadway construction projects in the area, including First Capitol Drive improvements in 2008, and the Blanchette Bridge and South Fifth Street improvements in 2013.
From an economic standpoint, improved traffic flow, good visibility and convenient access along a route allows shoppers to see and easily access their destination. The Fifth Street Interchange provides access to many of the County’s top attractions and employers, including Ameristar Casino, Historic Main Street, St. Charles Convention Center, Family Arena, Mark Twain Village (Bass Pro), Streets of St. Charles, SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - St. Charles, and more. When citizens patronize our local businesses, their sales tax dollars fund public safety and other important government services. Quality roads impact citizens and businesses, which, in turn, impacts government.
Here is a breakdown of each of the improvements and benefits to the area:
- Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) at the intersection of Fifth Street and Interstate 70: This interchange design still is relatively new to the metro area, but after driving through one a couple of times it is easy to understand how it is effective. DDIs allow motorists to make left turns without crossing opposing traffic, which reduces congestion and improves safety.
- New one-way outer road between Fifth Street and Fairgrounds Road: This new thoroughfare allows for additional access to the businesses at the Mark Twain Mall and the entire area on the north side of I-70.
- New Fairgrounds Road overpass and full interstate access to and from Fairgrounds: Enabling traffic to exit off of I-70 and Fairgrounds gives motorists another option for navigating the area.
- Roundabout at the intersection of Fairgrounds Road and Veterans Memorial Parkway: By keeping traffic moving, this roundabout helps with flow in and out of the busy St. Charles Convention Center during events.
- The addition of a fourth through lane on eastbound and westbound I-70 under Route 94: During peak morning and evening rush hours, the additional lane accommodates more traffic.
- More pedestrian-friendly features: Sidewalks along Fifth Street, Veterans Memorial Parkway and Fairgrounds Road, and new bike lanes at the Fairgrounds Road overpass, make the area safer for walkers and bikers.
I would like to commend the City of St. Charles, St. Charles County and Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) officials for working together to fund, plan and implement this much-needed project. I also would like to thank MoDOT for leading the construction efforts and local contractor Millstone Weber for their quality work. This project was completed on time and within budget because of teamwork. Working together to improve the community is government at its best.
For more information about the project, visit MoDOT’s project webpage.