The Great Streets Initiative—a 30-year master plan to improve the appearance and traffic flow on Manchester Road from Wildwood to Manchester—is making slow progress through Manchester’s city hall.
“Planning and zoning hasn’t completely signed off on it yet,” said Ward 2 Alderman Mike Clement, who sits on the planning and zoning committee as a nonvoting member and the board of aldermen’s liaison. He said that the planning and zoning committee approved parts of the plan, but also wanted to see changes made. The committee sent the plan back to Manchester's planning and zoning city staff for corrections and will vote on it at the committee's next meeting, Sept. 12. If the committee votes to approve the plan, it will go before the Manchester Board of Aldermen.
Clement did not say what kinds of changes the committee requested, other than that they were minor.
“Some of the changes are cosmetic,” said Clement. He said it was important for Manchester to decide how to handle the Great Streets Initiative before the resurfaces Manchester Road in two years.
He said the parts of the Great Streets Initiative that Manchester officials can approve involve installing new signage, lighting and sidewalks. These improvements will make Manchester Road appear uniform as it leads drivers from Manchester west to Wildwood.
“This will be the city’s entry point,” Clement said. The long-range plan could take up to 30 years to accomplish, especially if the road is widened.
Manchester, Winchester, Ballwin, Ellisville and Wildwood each have to approve the development plan, which is the brainchild of the East-West Council of Governments. The plan is a blueprint for the five communities, but each city would have to make improvements on its own.
“Great Streets will have a big impact, especially where stores are close to the street,” Clement said.
One of the suggestions presented by Great Streets to improve traffic flow is to widen Manchester Road. Clement said that Manchester officials do not support that idea, especially through the historic neighborhood where businesses are just yards from the roadway.
“There will be grants available, with a 20-80 split,” he said. Possible grants for this project would come from the federal government through the East-West Gateway, with a grant providing 80 percent of the money if the local government pays the remaining 20 percent.
Clement said that Manchester’s officials do not want to raise taxes to improve Manchester Road, which is a state highway and thus maintained by Missouri. During previous meetings, officials also voiced concern that the project ends at Highway 141, in the middle of the city, leaving the eastern portion of Manchester Road unimproved.
“My observation is that Manchester has done a better job of asking questions about this project,” he said. Other communities along Manchester have been much quicker to approve the Great Streets Initiative, but Clement said that some communities are also talking about raising taxes to pay for the improvements.
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