St. Louis Public Radio News
8:38 am
Wed February 25, 2009

County will receive bulk of locally distributed stimulus money

St. Louis, MO – A project to extend Woods Mill Rd. from Olive to the Page Avenue extension will receive the largest bulk of the St. Louis region's stimulus money. That funding is separate from what the area may receive through the Missouri Department of Transportation.

On Wednesday, the East-West Gateway Council of Governments unveiled which of the nearly 400 projects local governments submitted for funding will receive money.

The extension of Woods Mill (Route 141) will receive $20 million, which is nearly a third of the $67 million the Council may allocate.

St. Louis County executive Charlie Dooley lobbied hard to get that slice. He said the new road will open up several hundred acres for development.

"It's going to create more than 9,000 jobs, a $20 billion economic impact over the next 20 years," Dooley said. "That's what the economic stimulus package is supposed to do."

Dooley said the project will meet the tight time frames set by the stimulus bill, which requires that all permits and engineering plans be in place, and any rights-of-way be purchased. All construction must be complete within three years.

The Council will be conducting periodic reviews to make sure that projects are meeting those time frames, said executive director Les Sterman. It has developed a secondary list in case the 141 extension cannot be completed.

More information, and a complete list of projects the Council recommended be funded, is available here.

HELP FOR METRO?

The East-West Gateway Council of Governments said it may give $12 million from the stimulus package to Metro.

The St. Louis transit agency is planning major service cuts at the end of March because of what officials say is a $50 million budget shortfall.

The stimulus money is meant for capital projects, but Metro officials said some could be transferred to the agency's operations budget.

However Metro President Bob Baer said the cuts will still go into effect as planned, because the money will not come until the summer.

Baer told the Post-Dispatch stimulus money for Metro is far from a done deal..

Federal officials would also have to sign off on the proposal.

SLAY WANTS MORE FROM MODOT

St. Louis mayor Francis Slay is upset with MoDOT's plans to allocate its portion of the stimulus money to the region. The department has not officially announced which projects it will fund, but a provisional list gives the city just $5 million of the $164 million MoDOT will get.

Slay accuses the department of breaking federal law, and calls the list an insult to the city.

"Federal law requires that priority for that money be given to economically distressed areas," he said. "The city of St. Louis is the largest economically distressed area in the state of Missouri."

MoDOT district engineer Ed Hassinger said the department had to consider which projects could meet the law's strict deadlines and fit into the state's overall highway plan. And he said overall, the state spends more transportation money in the St. Louis region than anywhere else in the state.