WARRENTON, MO - Alleviating traffic headaches while spurring some must needed development in Warren County.
The City of Warrenton officially debuts the new Interstate 70 interchange Tuesday evening.
The new overpass is called the Jerry Dyer Memorial Bridge, named after Warrenton’s former mayor who died in 2015, and was a big supporter of a second, I-70 overpass for the city.
For business owner Lisa Luter who since November has run a furniture and vape shop in the long-closed Warrenton Outlet Center, the new addition means more customers.
“I sell vintage furniture and we’ve got a lot of great pieces for people, I mean unique items and stuff that still serves a purpose,” Luter explained, “I also sell paint so if people want to refurbish their furniture they can do that, it’s something the area doesn’t have and I aim to provide for them.”
The new interchange connects the north and south I-70 outer roads just west of Highway MM, with entrance and exit ramps to allow drivers to access the interstate. The construction of the interchange was paid for by two half-cent sales taxes approved by voters back in 2016.
“It was important from the safety and convenience perspective but also for the economic development and the potential it creates yet in another area of our community in which we had nowhere else to grow,” said city administrator, Terri Thorn.
That growth includes future retail in what used to be the outlet center which lately resembles a ghost town.
“We recently put in about a half a million dollars into fixing up the front,” said Arthur King, president of Raul Walters Properties. “We got a ways to go. We signed a deal with Rural King to open an 85,000 square foot store in 2019 that’s going to anchor the shopping center they wouldn’t come in without the overpass.”
For people living nearby, the new addition also means fewer traffic congestions.
“Traffic gets a little hectic and then there’s a lot of people who aren’t driving right,” said Tara Dormeyer, “and I think coming down to the next exit and having the roundabout will help alleviate a lot of that.”
For residents, leaders and business owners alike the interchange means more than just convenience.
“It about economic growth,” said Luter, “it’s about pulling together as a community.”
Drivers will be allowed to officially use the interstate bridge beginning August 31st until then motorists can use the outer roads.