Recently, MoDOT posted some of the comments from the April 14 Highway 270 corridor public meeting, and seriously I was not surprised with some of the responses. There was an overwhelming number of comments that mentioned about turning Dunn and Pershall into one-way outer roads. There were also several comments that the study should extend past Highway 367, preferably into Illinois.
Since IDOT doesn’t give a effing care about their section of 270 w/o 255 at all, its time to start going off big time. The interchange with Highway 203/Old Alton Road will make even those cloverleaves at Lindbergh and 367 look safe – complete with their 25 MPH loop ramps. (Its nothing unusual for the Mitchell FD to post wrecks at that interchange on their website.) The cloverleaves with Route 3 and 111 need to go bye bye. The speed limit in that area is 55 MPH and nobody obeys it. That whole section doesn’t even meet modern interstate standards as is, especially when it comes to the canal and river bridges. Toss in just 2 lanes in each direction, an AADT that is approaching 60k vehicles (with at least 10k of it tractor-trailers), and a total lack of law enforcement, any issue that happens can screw over the Metro East in a big way, especially the Alton/River Bend region. Those morons have not learned their lessons from the past incidents that have happened on 270 (been too many to even list and some of those date back from the year it was opened in 1965-1966), and building that interchange on 255 at Gateway Commerce Center Drive has resulted in several nasty wrecks after that project was finished. (Get this: they built that to get trucks off 270/111 interchange, and now there is news in the Alton Telegraph about a bad wreck on that section that seems to happen once a month. Just for good measure, some of them have been fatal.)
IDOT recently let bids for the canal bridge replacement project (they packaged it with the rebuild of the Route 3 interchange for good measure), and soon the winning bids will be announced (note all bids exceeded IDOT projected cost of the project of $103M). The bad news is that even when they do replace the canal bridges, it will still be 2 lanes in each direction and the canal bridges were just the least of their worries. The big problem is the river bridge itself, which has a crumbling median wall and pavement that is becoming a piece of crap. IDOT has not bothered in fixing the median wall since it has been damaged in three separate accidents since December (and all three happened in the same general area), and there has been recent lane closures to patch the pavement. The bridge has an history of major expansion joint problems as well, most notably the August 1994 incident.
The big striking feature of the 270 Chain of Rocks Bridge is the fact there is no shoulders. That section of 270 does not meet modern interstate standards due to this fact, despite the fact that bridge did not predate the interstate highway system. (The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge predated it, along with the MLK and McKinley Bridges, and the latter two were bridges that IDOT tried doing safety improvements on.) As a result, when someone breaks down or wrecks on the bridge, that person is stuck there blocking lanes of traffic that could lead to a major incident. Most of the time, those stalls have lead to major bridge closing accidents, including ones that lead to fatalities. Every time an incident shuts the bridge down, the River Bend region suffers as traffic clogs up Route 143 approaches to the Clark Bridge due to a botched design of the Illinois approaches to that bridge. (IDOT should never had built the Broadway Connector in the first place, and the Belchik Expressway should had been built back in 1993-1994 and marked Route 140 instead. In addition, the left turn lane from 143 to the bridge only handles 5 vehicles; had IDOT never built that Broadway Connector that left turn lane would had been much longer.)
IDOT, however, has been very quiet about the safety reputation. MoDOT has been very vocal about it, going as far as posting files during the Highway 270 corridor study public hearing with the mainline safety rating and the section east of Riverview was rated very poor.
The bottom line of what really needs to be done:
- Convert the interchange with Route 3 to some sort of a directional, getting rid of some of those cloverleaf loop ramps.
- Make the Old Alton Road and IL 203 exits into half diamonds, cause locals take nearby Maryville Road to cross the tracks and use Chain of Rocks Road to get to Route 3 or 111 to get on 270 from there.
- Convert IL 111 interchange into a SPUI.
- Add a aux. lane from westbound 270 to southbound 255, it is very difficult to see the ramp for that exit as is right now.
- Relocate the Sand Road overpass further east to allow for the modified ramps at 255. Due to this overpass being used for bicycle purposes, it needs to meet ADA standards and at the same time be wide enough to allow the seasonal farm traffic.
- IDOT would had been better off holding off on the canal bridge replacement project in the first place, just wait til its time to replace the river bridge and get two birds done with one stone.
- Widen it to at least 3 lanes in each direction.