Warren County officials addressed the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission about Interstate 70 during its October 12 meeting.
Warren County officials made it clear how important Interstate 70 is to the region during the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission meeting Oct. 12 in Warrenton.
“I-70 is vital to this region’s continued development,” Presiding Commissioner Joe Gildehaus said before a near-capacity crowd at the Warrenton city annex. “Warren County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state.”
Gildehaus emphasized that the growth of Warren County does pose challenges for the future.
“Some of the roads have really exceeded a lot of our expectations,” he told the highway commission.
For instance, he said, traffic on Highway 47 has increased by more than 3,000 vehicles per day, an additional 700 vehicles are using Stracks Church Road, and almost 600 additional cars are traveling on the deteriorating Roelker Road through Wright City.
So he was excited that the project to add a third lane to Interstate 70 would begin soon in the county.
“Warren County is excited to be one of the first phases for the I-70 reconstruction project,” Gildehaus said. “We pledge to work with you and make sure this project is done well today and for our future.”
During the meeting, it was again confirmed that work to add the third lane to I-70 through Warren County would begin next fall. Work is expected to take four years to complete and will cost between $400 and $500 million.
Work from Warrenton to Kingdom City is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2026 as MoDOT tries to account for material and contractor capacity on the seven-year project.
“It looks like we’re jumping around and that’s by design,” Jeff Gander, Improve I-70 central project director, said during the meeting. “We feel like contract capacity is going to take a hit if we try to work all in one area. So we’re starting in the center, then we’re jumping to the ends.”
While no specific details were discussed about the I-70 project through Warren County, the interstate highway did play a big role in the discussion.
Gildehaus joined Steve Etcher, economic development consultants for the Greater Warren County Economic Development Council, and former state Rep. Charlie Nordwald in addressing the five commissioners on behalf of the communities as a whole.
Initially, it was expected that officials from Warrenton, Truesdale, and Wright City would also address the commission, though each city, along with both the Wright City R-II and Warren County R-III were represented at the meeting.
“The improved investments along Interstate 70 will provide us even more opportunities for growth,” Etcher said.
Etcher then highlighted a number of projects in both Warren and Montgomery counties that have occurred on or near the I-70 corridor, including the new AFG plant near Wright City.
“We often tout the value of being located along I-70, which gives them access to a world-class transportation system,” Etcher said. “It is vital to our economic development strategy. Our efforts over the past decade have attracted significant levels of new private investment and new employment opportunities.”
He said there have been 27 projects announced that will create almost 2,220 new jobs for the region.
The development has also helped increase the annual wage in Warren County from just more than $30,000 in 2011 to more than $45,000 in 2022.
That development has also helped bring in more than $100 million in taxes on production and imports, up significantly from just more than $60 million in 2011.
“As a region, we are growing in economic development activity. We are growing as a destination,” Etcher told commissioners. “And more importantly, we are growing family incomes and we are poised to continue this growth and expand economic opportunities for all who choose to call this region home.”
Nordwald echoed Etcher’s statement in his own, which drew applause from the commission and those in attendance.
“The I-70 improvement project is for everyone,” he said. “Every municipality, county and state ill benefit from the efficient flow of traffic on I-70.”
About the author: Jason Koch is the editor of The Warren County Record, and covers local news and government for the newspaper. He has won multiple awards from both the Indiana and Illinois APME and from the Illinois Press Association. He can be reached at 636-456-6397 or at email@example.com