Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Research Park, Board Dig in over Overpass

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Research Park, Board Dig in over Overpass

Article excerpt

The standoff continues: The Weldon Spring mayor and Board of Aldermen won't budge on opposing an overpass proposed by Missouri Research Park.

Rick Finholt, executive director of the research park, owned by the University of Missouri, pushed the plan's merits to a packed city hall Tuesday night.

The overpass spanning Highway 40 from the research park to the North Outer Road in Weldon Spring, just east of the truck weigh station, has been approved by the Missouri Department of Transportation. Construction could begin this year. Weldon Spring can't legally block the project. Financing for the project, estimated at $5.27 million, has been locked in for months. The project won priority approval from East-West Gateway Coordinating Council, which schedules road improvements. East-West Gateway said the project was a good use of taxpayer dollars and liked that the research park added the largest share of capital, Finholt said. The University of Missouri will pay $1.75 million; East-West, $1 million; the highway department, $1.27 million; the Department of Economic Development, $750,000; and St. Charles County Road Board, $500,000. In recent months, the research park changed the first plan in an attempt to meet Weldon Spring's concerns, Finholt said. Instead of routing traffic from the outer road to Highway 94 through Beckman Road, the research park would build a connector road 1,000 feet southwest across from Hemingway Drive. The research park would block traffic turning right off the overpass onto the winding, rural Wolfrum Road and police the intersection for compliance. Finholt extolled the research park's virtues, claiming its companies are some of the best-performing industries in the state. Many companies, such as Zoltek Corp., have seen phenomenal growth. Zoltek's stock value shot up 300 percent last year, he said. "These companies are your future; they're creating jobs for your children and grandchildren," he said. Alderman Andy Clutter, 1st Ward, said, "No one would question your suc cess. We question the need for an overpass." Finholt said the research park needed the overpass to retain companies and attract others. …

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