Warren County

Interstate 70 expansion could result in three new Warren County overpasses

By Jason Koch, Editor
Posted 2/8/24

The Missouri Department of Transportation has designs for interchange improvements in Warrenton and Wright City, but those plans are unfunded.

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Warren County

Interstate 70 expansion could result in three new Warren County overpasses


Warren County residents could see as many as three of its current Interstate 70 overpasses demolished and rebuilt as part of the project to add a third lane to the major highway.

That information was released during an almost two-hour long meeting with the Missouri Department of Transportation Community Advisory Group on Jan. 31 at the Warren County Administration Building.

MoDOT officials stressed that none of the plans discussed at the meeting were final. They were brought to the advisory group, which includes representatives from Truesdale, Warrenton, Wright City, and Warren County, to get input as MoDOT moves closer to submitting its final plan for the I-70 expansion to the Federal Highway Administration.

Currently, Missouri has approved $2.8 billion for the entire Improve I-70 project. That money is to be used to add a third lane to the interstate from Wentzville to Blue Springs, accounting for almost 200 miles of new westbound and eastbound roadway.

The budget does not currently include money for interchange improvements.

“Our big goal is to add a third lane to I-70,” Kim Trainor, the east project team director said during the meeting. “Then we’ll have other goals associated. We will establish a certain budget and then the contractors form teams to compete against each other. And they work with moDOT and it is more of the concept of they look at the budget and they tell us how much they can give us for that budget amount.” 

Without additional money, MoDOT said they would only replace the existing bridges if it was impossible to add the new lanes. That could affect the bridges at exit 200 into Wright City and the Stracks Church Road overpass. On- and off-ramps to the highway would have to be adjusted at each interchange to work with the additional lane.

However, if MoDOT is able to secure additional money, either as part of the I-70 project or sometime in the future, there are plans in the works to make significant improvements to the current interchanges in eastern Warren County. 

If that were to happen, only exit 199 to Wildcat Drive in Wright City would see minimal changes.

The most significant change, should MoDOT acquire the money, would be the demolition of the current Highway 47 bridge in Warrenton. MoDOT officials said that, because of the way the current overpass is built, the entire bridge would have to be demolished. The new bridge would then be built in the same location.

Under the current MoDOT, the on- and off-ramps would then be moved, along with the North Service Road, to improve traffic flow.

But a detour would be in place for several months once the bridge was demolished as drivers would no longer be able to cross over the highway on Highway 47. The current on- and off-ramps could continue to be utilized as part of the detour.

“Occasionally, you see traffic flow better while it’s under construction because we’re most likely not going to have these signals right next to each other,” Trainor said during the meeting. “If we can deal with the pain of it going in its same location, you can make it so much more affordable.”

The cost of those interchange improvements are expected to be in the $20 to $25 million range, but officials stressed that both the current plans and expected cost could change before the final plan is approved.

The additional money could come from a cost-sharing agreement between MoDOT and the city or county.

The current plan for exit 200 into Wright City is similar. MoDOT is looking at moving the interchange to the east, adding on- and off-ramps in both directions, and routing traffic into the city via the service roads. That would then remove the current eastbound off-ramp and westbound on-ramp.

The overpass, either the current structure or a new bridge, would remain.

This plan would add an additional $40 to $45 million to the project.

Officials again emphasized that even if there isn’t money to make these improvements during the rest of the interstate work, the plan will still be in place going into the future and could be constructed later.

“If we’re doing this study, that study is still going to be good,” Chris Kelly, the deputy project director, said during the meeting. “It’s going to be good as long as we’re working on the project and for a period of years after. “The preliminary engineering work is already done. This will be cleared by the Federal Highway (Administration) so that if you do, in a couple years, have the ability to fund something, we’re not starting from square one.”

MoDOT will address the drainage issues along that stretch of I-70 as part of the lane addition work.

During the meeting, Trainor said the plan for the lane addition is to work into the median and replace the current grass ditch with a concrete barrier. 

MoDOT expects to award the contracts for the I-70 work between Warrenton and Wentzville later this year, and expects construction work to begin in early 2025. Work on the Warrenton to Kingdom City section of the project is not expected to begin until 2027.

For more updates on the project, visit modot.org/improvei70.

interstate 70, warren county, overpass, modot, expansion