South County Connector
10:41 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

From Bike Trails To Property Values, Residents Raise Concerns About ‘South County Connector’

St. Louis City Alderman Scott Ogilvie holds up a display showing the proposed South County Connector during a public meeting on Monday, July 8.
Credit Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

During a public meeting Monday night, several residents raised concerns about a proposed highway project that would stretch through parts of St. Louis City and County.

Called the South County Connector, the unfunded highway project has a more than $100 million price tag and would run from Hanley Road at Deer Creek Plaza to River Des Peres Boulevard.  

John Hicks is the Transportation Development Analyst for St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic. He said the project would ease congestion from motorists traveling between South St. Louis City and the middle part of St. Louis County, pulling them off of roads never meant to handle rush hour traffic.

“A connector is going to pull that traffic off, makes those connections between north and south arterials; improve access to the MetroLink station and make those neighborhoods much more walkable,” Hicks said.

Opponents of the plan say it will do the opposite and that it does not account for bike and pedestrian uses.

The proposed four-lane highway project prompted Great Rivers Greenway  to issue a letter of concern last month.  

“Something that I take seriously is my impact on the world, and to improve my bicycle transportation practices” said Clayton-Tamm resident Steven Ley.  “So, anything that doesn’t help in the infrastructure in the city for that, is a problem for me.”

Critics also say that that it would undermine ridership from the Shrewsbury MetroLink station.

Other concerns voiced by residents included what impact the project would have on neighborhoods near its path, especially with regards to property values and extra traffic noise. 

The project would run through Maplewood, where the City Council went so far as to pass a resolution that officially voices the municipality's opposition to the plan.  

The comment period for the project ends on July 19, after which officials could begin the process of applying for federal money to cover most of the construction costs.

Collecting comments is required to apply for federal road money, and Hicks said the department is open to altering the plan based on the comments it receives. 

Follow Tim Lloyd on Twitter: @TimSLloyd