In three weeks, on Nov. 22, anyone who drives Woods Mill-Highway 141 between Conway Road and Olive Boulevard, or Ladue Road at the 141 intersection should see a change, and feel relief that heavy construction may be over.
The Missouri Department of Transportaion (MoDOT) believes new bypasses and links among the old and new roads will open up for traffic.
“In a perfect world, at the exact same time,” according to MoDOT Resident Engineer Jesse Jonas, three things will happen Nov. 22—a Tuesday. “This is where it gets crazy. A lot happens then,” Jonas said.
- Ladue Road, east of Route 141, will open up to the new 141 pavement.
- North-south traffic will shift from old 141/Woods Mill Road onto mainline Route 141 (the new pavement.)
- A bypass will open up allowing Ladue Road to the west of 141 to connect with the new north-south route.
When those three things happen, traffic will be in the configuration it will be in for most of the duration of the rest of the project. Shifting north-south traffic onto the new Route 141 will allow the rest of the Ladue Road interchange to be built.
MoDOT's website, with illustrations and aerial maps, explains the project in much detail.
When the openings and re-routing occur, traffic on the new Route 141 will meet old 141 at the traffic light in front of Parkway Central High School to the north. Guiding the school traffic is key.
The big push now is to get the pavement down, so traffic can be on the main route by the time sloppy winter weather kicks in, and drivers won't have to contend with a lane switch as well.
The Ladue interchange is 40 feet in the air higher than the surface level of old Ladue Road.
“There’s so much structure,” Jonas said. “You’ve got to do substantial improvements to the dirt itself just to be able to hold that kind of weight. We’ve been dealing with putting in ground improvements, called stone columns, essentially all over, in a grid underneath this wall.”
The previous rainy winter and spring slowed the work. Rain always does that, but the low area around Ladue Road multiplied the problem. Maryville Creek and Creve Coeur Creek merge at the intersection of Ladue Road and Highway 141, and the area has always flooded. The new construction is not intended to halt the flooding.
“Where we filled here, we took out there. It’s providing that same volume of storage for when the creek comes up,” said Project Manager Tom Montes. “We’re not improving the flooding situation, we’re just not making it any worse.”
Overall, MoDOT is working to minimize the environmental impact.
Jonas said hundreds of trees were saved that wouldn’t have been in a traditional project, and trees that had to be removed went to mills, with the wood going to make furniture, pallets, and even boat oars.
“We knew what environment we were going through,” Jonas said. “We knew that as much as we could do to protect it meant the world to our neighbors, that are going to be around this for ever.”