St. Clair County leaders keep pushing for a new "front door" to Scott Air Force Base and MidAmerica Airport. But really, the doors that exist seem more than adequate to us.
The leaders want transportation dollars used to build a new Interstate 64 exit at Rieder Road, or Exit 21. But there's already Exit 19 to the west at Illinois 158, and Exit 23 to the east at Illinois 4. Adding a third exit in a four-mile stretch is excessive, especially at a time when transportation needs are great and dollars are scarce.
O'Fallon hopes a new interchange will be another success like the Greenmount Road interchange. The city said that boosted sales taxes from $6.5 million to $13 million a year. But part of that success can be attributed to the exit creating a major north-south corridor. The proposed exit would primarily redistribute existing traffic.
Besides, it's a mistake to keep shifting new development farther east. Development at Rieder Road likely would come at the expense of older areas to the west. Once vibrant Fairview Heights now is working to revitalize its west end business district.
A doughnut hole is developing along the I-64 corridor between downtown St. Louis and Fairview Heights, and that should be a major concern for the entire metro-east.
There are more pressing and potentially beneficial transportation needs in our area -- say, a full interchange at Union Hill or Bunkum Road in Fairview Heights -- than Rieder Road.