The head of the Improve Interstate 70 program for the Missouri Department of Transportation gives an update on the project to add to the highway in Warren County.
The work to add a third lane to Interstate 70 in Warren County is expected to cost about $550 million according to a Missouri Department of Transportation spokesman.
Improve I-70 program director Eric Kopinski said MoDOT is currently evaluating the environmental impacts, pavement conditions, utility impacts, right-of-way impacts, and current bridge conditions as it prepares to launch the massive project that will ultimately end with a third lane added to the major highway from Wentzville to Blue Springs.
But he said additional work will also be included as part of the project.
“Previously funded MoDOT projects are including the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program being considered to be pulled in, and included with the Improve I-70 project from Warrenton to Wentzville,” Kopinski said. “This includes the I-64 lane addition from I-70 to Route 94, improving the I-70 and I-64 interchange, the project to improve I-70 under the railroad bridge in Wentzville, and a project to repair pavement on I-64. The timing of these additional projects align well with the statewide I-70 work. The benefit of including them into a single larger project will allow for coordination of work, and help minimize some of the construction impacts.”
Officials from Warren County and multiple cities discussed the project cost and impact with MoDOT officials during a meeting earlier this month.
At that meeting, officials said they were concerned that the cost of the project could see I-70 through Warren County get no upgrades beyond the third lane.
“That was one of the biggest conversations we had with MoDOT,” Wright City Mayor Michelle Heiliger said during the Dec. 14 board of aldermen.
Kopinski said he does not believe money will be a problem during the project.
“MoDOT continues to closely track the budget for the Improve I-70 program,” he said. “With such a significant investment there will be regular budget reports to the elected officials on status updates as progress continues. We remain confident there is enough funding to construct the additional third lane to both eastbound and westbound I-70 from Wentzville to Blue Springs.”
But just in case, Heiliger said representation in Jefferson City is watching out for local residents.
“I want to give credit to (state Rep.) Jeff Myers for really being an advocate for us in Warren County because he had the same questions I did,” Heilger said.
Heiliger also said county officials were presented with multiple options for overpass replacement, though no plans have officially been approved.
“You’ve got a good group of people who are staying close to that project and trying to make sure that we can get as much out of it for Wright City and Warren County in general as we can while they’re building,” Heiliger said. “It makes sense to do it while we’re already tearing everything up and building it. It seems silly to say ‘let’s make a mess of this and create all this chaos with traffic and then wait five years and do it again.’ That doesn’t make any sense.”
But Kopinski reiterated what MoDOT has said about the project from the start.
“The main project goal of Improve I-70 is to add the additional lane to eastbound and westbound I-70 from Wentzville to Blue Springs,” he said. “As these improvements are made, MoDOT is looking closely at what additional improvements can be made within the budget. There are many needs of the corridor, and MoDOT is taking a data approach to help determine for each project if there is additional funding what additional improvements can be made.”
He did indicate that the current interchanges in Warren County that will be affected by this part of the project, exit 193 into Warrenton and exits 199 and 200 into Wright City, will be evaluated.
“As part of the environmental reevaluation process, there is evaluation of the project interchanges,” Kopinski said. “Many of these are unfunded, but high level consideration is being performed as this process is being completed.”
Construction on the Warrenton to Wentzville section of the Improve I-70 project is expected to begin sometime in late 2024. Work is expected to last into late 2028.
The rest of I-70 through Warren County, from Warrenton to Kingdom City, is not expected to begin until 2026 and won’t be completed until 2030.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org