>the new IDOT 5 year plan screws over the 270 corridor

Posted: 2011/04/11 in IDOT

>The new IDOT 5-year plan has confirmed that they rather budget their money anywhere but the I-270 corridor. Out of the $11.6B plan, just $103M is planned for the I-270 corridor, and all of that is to replace those canal bridges during FY 2012. Two other known projects that were on the FY 2011-2016 plan have been withdrawn from the new plan. One of them was a rumored corridor study between the river to Route 111, which is desperately needed. The public really needs to give IDOT some major heat for this. Their neighbors across the river is not shy about the issues on the I-270 corridor, and the locals over there have been known to unload some serious heat to MoDOT in regards to the issues on 270 in North County in the past.

Historically, IDOT has never gave a care to the I-270 corridor in the Metro East. They have proven time and time again that they would rather spend the funds beefing up other corridors that don’t provide a direct relief to the I-270 corridor. It took the Alton-River Bend area over twenty years to get IDOT to cave into pressure to replace the Clark Bridge and IDOT decides to botch the design of the Illinois approaches to the replacement bridge with short single turn lanes from IL 143 and US 67 (not to mention not fully completing them until 2 years after it opened). As a result, every time that things go wrong on the CoR Bridge, those people that rely on the Clark Bridge get royally screwed over. (Actually anything that goes wrong between Lilac and Route 3 have been known to clog up Route 143 around the Clark Bridge.) As you know, the Clark Bridge is the main alternate crossing to the CoR Bridge, and vice versa. IDOT is on the hook of maintaining both bridges, and the only things that seem to go on is basic maintenance and inspections and nothing else.

In December 2010, there was not one but two bridge closing wrecks on the CoR. The first one got tons of news coverage, not only for the fact it involved a fatality, but it happened right before the morning peak period. Two of the daily newspapers had totally different views in reporting that incident. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch talked about the incident and little about the aftermath; the Alton Telegraph talked about the backups leading to the Clark Bridge and little about the incident. The second one came on a Sunday afternoon less than two weeks later and got little news coverage because nobody got hurt and the local TV stations rarely do news at that time during the football season. Both times, traffic on 143 leading to the Clark Bridge backed up, due in part of that single short left turn lane.

What fallout came as a result of those incidents? It appears nothing has been done, as IDOT is still got their hands stuck in that I-70 project that won’t directly affect the traffic impacts on the CoR and Clark Bridges, and spending nights and weekends screwing over 55/70 just east of 64. Getting IDOT to run their mouth on the 270 corridor is nothing but a sore subject, and they been doing everything in their power to avoid that issue. The August 1994 incident gave the news media all the tools needed to really expose IDOT, however, there was no such thing as social networking like there is today and the Internet was still three years away. If that stuff was around back then, IDOT would had to absorb some major heat just like MoDOT did with the Highway 40 trash truck accident that happened just 4 years later.

So what did December 8 incident did? The locals went to the comment section of the news articles about the incident and exploited the bridge design. The people that use the bridge on a regular basis are convinced that changes need to be made. Some of them have gone as far as change their job or their residence just so they could avoid the bridge. Read this interesting GraniteCityGossip post from the December 8 incident.

However, given the historical stance that IDOT has had since the 1960s, it appears its going to take another nasty incident or two before they’ll face the music and realize that they made a big mistake in pushing the new downtown bridge for I-70. MoDOT for a long time was reluctant in doing any funding for that bridge and for good reason – they’re already on the hook for the Poplar St. Bridge and the so called bi-state agreement would put MoDOT on the hook for this one as well.

Since the next bad incident can’t be predicted (although all the contributing factors are in place), the locals need to start telling their local representatives to start giving some serious heat to IDOT. IDOT will eventually crack under pressure, they have done that time and time again on the other corridors.


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