Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the South County Connector and why is it being conducted now?
The South County Connector Project (SCC) is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Location Study. The EIS will identify a transportation alternative that will improve connectivity between south St. Louis County, the City of St. Louis, and central St. Louis County, and to Interstates 44, 64, 55, and 170. The Location Study will examine potential routes or alternatives through the corridor.
There have been several planning efforts in the past to identify potential options for north-south access improvements in central and south St. Louis County.
The St. Louis County Department of Highways & Traffic has identified the South County Connector as a high priority project in the County and funding to conduct the EIS and Location Study has become available.
2. How would the South County Connector benefit the region?
A preferred alternative recommended by the South County Connector study is intended to: (1) improve roadway connectivity, (2) decrease roadway congestion, (3) increase roadway capacity, (4) enhance safety, and (5) consider the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians.
Additionally, the multi-modal aspect of the South County Connector promotes the joint Livable Communities Initiative and will help citizens gain better access to housing and jobs, community services, and transportation options, as well as promote sustainable development and economic growth.
3. What are the study’s boundaries?
The project area is generally bounded by Manchester Road to the north, Hanley Road and Laclede Station Road to I-44 to the west, Murdoch Avenue and Watson Road to the south and Big Bend Boulevard and River Des Peres to the east. The study area includes Maplewood, Webster Groves, Shrewsbury, and southern/ southwestern portions of the City of St. Louis. The SCC could also impact travel to and from additional areas, including Brentwood, Richmond Heights, and Clayton.
4. Who is sponsoring the project?
The St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic is sponsoring the project, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). The FHWA is the Federal Lead Agency and has final approval authority for the project. MoDOT and St. Louis County are Joint Lead Agencies. Additionally, the sponsors will coordinate with appropriate federal, state and local agencies throughout the project.
5. What is an Environmental Impact Statement?
An Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, is a process established under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and is required for certain actions with potential significant impacts on the human environment. The process generally includes the following components:
- Scoping – open coordination process with agencies and the general public to identify the scope of issues to be addressed in the EIS;
- Purpose and Need – identification of problems that the project is intended to address;
- Preliminary Alternatives – development of alternatives that address the purpose and need;
- Alternative Screening – evaluation of the preliminary alternatives using established evaluation criteria;
- Draft EIS – identification of the preferred alternative and public review and comment; and
- Final EIS and Record of Decision – submission to the Federal Highway Administration for approval.
NEPA requires completing an EIS before a major transportation project can be constructed using federal monies.
6. What alternatives will the study consider?
Alternatives to be evaluated will include:
- No Build – The "no-build" alternative is always included as a benchmark against which the impacts of other alternatives can be compared.
- Transportation System Management Options – Examples include mass transit, high-occupancy vehicle lanes, ridesharing, and signal synchronization.
- Build Alternatives –Several build alternatives will be studied and could include a full interchange at Interstate 44. These alternatives have not been developed yet, but will be developed through the EIS process.
7. What other factors will be considered in identifying a preferred alternative?
As part of the EIS, the study must consider factors such as parks and recreation; natural and ecological resources; wetlands; cultural and historical resources; social and community character; noise impacts; hazardous/contaminated materials; and public input.
Additionally, the various planning studies that have been conducted during the past several years will be taken into account.
The South County Connector project will build upon these studies and will conclude with the selection of a preferred alternative, one that best balances the costs and environmental impacts with the ability to fulfill the project’s purpose and need.
8. Who makes the final decision about which alternative to implement?
The study’s draft and final EIS must be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for approval. The FHWA issues the Record of Decision on the EIS and preferred alternative. However, as Joint Lead Agencies, the St. Louis County Department of Highways & Traffic and the Missouri Department of Transportation MoDOT will also be involved in the final determination of a preferred alternative.
9. How long will it take to complete the study?
The South County Connector EIS is anticipated to be completed in late 2013.
10. Is there any funding to build a preferred alternative?
There is currently no funding available to implement a preferred alternative. The EIS must be completed and approved before the project would be eligible for federal funding. Once funding is secured, construction could begin within 5 to 10 years.
11. How can the public learn more and get involved in the study?
The most direct way to get involved is by attending the study’s public open house meetings. A schedule of these meetings will be posted on the study website and advertised through project materials.
John Hicks, Transportation Development Analyst
St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic
Division of Highway Planning
121 S. Meramec Ave.
Clayton, Missouri 63105