The Oct. 27 East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGCOG) Board of Directors meeting was a big win for St. Charles County, specifically the Wentzville area. The board voted to approve $39 million in its Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) to fix the #1 bottleneck in the St. Louis region: the Wentzville “Curve” on I-70 near the interchange of I-64/I-70/US 61.
“I am so pleased this project is finally being funded,” says St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann, who sits on the EWGCOG board. “As those who frequently travel that stretch of I-70 know, there is severe congestion in that area, which is a detriment to quality of life, as well as economic growth.”
County Executive Ehlmann has been instrumental in pushing the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and EWGCOG to fund this project for several years. In July 2019, EWGCOG included the project in its Long-Range Plan and recommended that it be included in the TIP.
In 2020, MoDOT identified funding and included the project in its 2021-2025 Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP), but due to concerns about possible revenue shortfalls during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission did not adopt the draft STIP. The funding was approved, however, earlier this year.
The plan calls for additional lanes to be added to I-70 under the railroad bridge in Wentzville. The daily bottleneck on the interstate, due to the curve of the highway and limited number of lanes between Route Z and Wentzville Parkway, causes delays for those trying to get home, as well as for freight trucks traveling through the region. The Norfolk Southern Railroad overpass is rated high in three areas of an annual congestion report – severity of congestion, total impact to the traveling public, and congestion variability. It is ranked #36 in the nation’s worst bottlenecks.
Construction on the project will begin in 2023.