For a while now, MoDOT has been selling surplus property it no longer needs advertising many of the properties on its Realty for Sale website. This, in general, is a good thing as MoDOT can use the revenue it makes to pay for addition road work. It’s bad, however, when the property is part of a potential MetroLink right-of-way as in Olivette.
MoDOT acquired the vacant “Air Masters” property, located on the south side of Olive Blvd just west of I-170, as part of the recent Olive & I-170 interchange project. The property includes a 50-ft easement for Ameren UE and may have once included a railroad spur connecting the old Rock Island railroad on the north to the Metro owned corridor on the east. With the Olive & I-170 project complete, MoDOT is trying to sell the surplus property it owns.
The corridor that runs along the “Air Masters” property happens to be one of two options, and the most direct, for an expansion of MetroLink from Clayton to Westport; the other option would be to continue north parallel to I-170 until reaching the Rock Island railroad corridor and turning west. The Westport alignment was selected over an I-64 alignment as the preferred means to expand MetroLink to West County during the Daniel Boone MTIA study completed in 2000.
MoDOT, however, isn’t the only local government agency with the potential to put a roadblock in the path of this future potential MetroLink alignment. Back in 2007, the city of Olivette approved plans by the Sansone Group for the development of the southwest corner of I-170 & Olive Blvd, but the worsening economy seems to have scuttled the project. The main feature of Greenway Pointe, as the development was named, was a possible new Target store located smack on top of the old railroad right-of-way. The Economic Development Commission for the city of Olivette recently discussed the redevelopment initiative for the south side of Olive, but has yet to post the minutes from the meeting.
As far back as August 2008, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley indicated the Daniel Boone line to Westport would be the county’s top MetroLink expansion priority. It would be a shame if a development were to block the path of the most direct and likely best MetroLink alignment to Westport. The least MoDOT could do is hold on to the property a little longer, or turn it over to Metro and let them decide what to do with it.