At Wednesday night's regular meeting, Mayor Nick Guccione and all five aldermen signed a letter that will be sent to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon about eliminating dangerous intersections on Hwy. 61. The letter reads as follows:
Dear Governor Nixon,
On November 23, 2009, a horrific traffic accident occurred at Highway 61 and Highway P that claimed the life of a 16-year-old Holt High School student. The accident spurred calls for action on this dangerous stretch of Highway 61 by leaders of several communities in western St. Charles County and southern Lincoln County. In a story dated December 9, 2009, St. Louis Post-Disptach reporter Mark Schlinkmann detailed the dangers of Highway 61 from Interstate 70 to the northern border of Lincoln Couny. The newspaper reported that 13 people died on that stretch of Highway 61 between 2005 and November 23, 2009. And that does not count the injury accidents and the property damage.
Following the November 23, 2009, accident, then-Moscow Mills Mayor Mike Clynch credited the state for some safety measures along Highway 61, including erecting two overpasses and planning a third to eliminate some dangerous at-grade intersections with smaller roads. But he says many other spots need similar remedies - especially along the most traffic-clogged segment between Wentzville and Troy. They intersections can require crossing through the median in heavy traffic that is particularly dangerous in the northbound lanes during afternoon and evening commuting time. "Why has Highway 61 not been made THE priority in the St. Louis area when it comes to roadway upgrades and safety issues?" Mayor Clych said in an email to the Post-Dispatch.
The newspaper also reported that U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, whose district includes the 61 corridor, won approval of $190,000 in federal funds to pay for a study of overall problems on 61 in the two counties.
That was then. What has happend since Dec. 2009, on that dangerous stretch of roadway? Some 30 months later, two more people have died, others have been injured and we have no results from the study that Congressman Aiken had funded. Following a fatal accident in August 2011, our residents signed a petition for action — 1,030 strong. Former Wentzville Mayor Paul Lambi wrote a letter to District Engineer Ed Hassinger offering a partnership for assistance in addressing this critical public safety issue. A copy of that letter is attached. We are attaching other letters that have been written by our City staff, including emails that have received painfully slow responses. Television station KMOV-TV, Channel 4, reported on this issue last week, with this quote from MoDOT: "MoDOT has said many of the roads in Wentzville were built long before the population grew to its current levels." This much is obvious. The highway is badly outdated for the use it gets in 2012.
The calls for action have apparently been ignored. The intersections of Highway P and Peine Road with Highway 61 continue to be dangerous. Our community had pleaded for action, but thus far we have no meaningful responses with the exception of the department saying there is no money. We have a meeting set with Mr. Hassinger of MoDOT on June 27 from noon to 1 p.m. We would like to extend an invitation you and or the Director of MoDOT, Mr. Kevin Keith, to attend. But please understand, we need action not talk.
We respectfully suggest what is at issue is the setting of priorities and we have one simple question: How many more of our citizens need to die on this dangerous stretch of road before the safety of citizens driving on Highway 61 becomes a priority for the State of Missouri?
Nickolas Guccione, Mayor
Lisa Harrison, Chief of Police
Cheryl Kross, Alderman Ward 1
Forrest Gossett, Alderman Ward 1
Chris Gard, Alderman Ward 2
Sonya Shryock, Alderman Ward 2
Rick Stokes, Alderman Ward 3