Metro East news briefs

Instead of the usual in-person visits and tours, potential students to Lewis and Clark Community College will be able to participate in a virtual recruiting program using Blackboard Collaborate. (Photos courtesy of LCCC)

Unhealthy air forecast across much of area

Despite reduced traffic on roadways, much of the St. Louis area will experience dangerous levels of air pollution this month, according to the St. Louis Clean Air Partnership.

In its first round of air quality forecasts for 2020, issued May 1, the group gives Madison and St. Clair county “F” grades for air pollution.

No forecast is provided for Monroe County because the county has no air quality monitoring stations collecting data, the group explains.

On the Missouri side of the region, the City of St. Louis, as well as St. Louis County, St. Charles, and Jefferson counties, likewise, receive failing grades for air pollution.

Among Illinois Metro East collar counties, Randolph and Macoupin counties received a “C” for air quality, with Jersey County receiving an F.

The group provides no air quality forecasts for Bond, Calhoun, Clinton, or Greene counties.

The St. Louis chapter of the American Lung Association, which co-sponsors the air quality predictions here, fears pollution could take a backseat to COVID-19 as a public health concern this year.

However, air pollution can contribute to underlying health conditions that can make people more vulnerable to the coronavirus, the association notes.

Air quality is commonly reported and forecast across the U.S. using the American Lung Association’s color-coded Air Quality Index (AQI) scales, which ranks air as a good, moderate, unhealthy for sensitive groups, unhealthy, very unhealthy, or hazardous.

The St. Louis group’s letter grades are based on the number of days counties are expected to experience unhealthy or hazardous air quality levels over the course of a month.

On 25 days this month, air pollution levels in Madison County will be unhealthy for sensitive groups, and unhealthy for the general population for two more.

In St. Clair County, air quality will be unhealthy for people with underlying health conditions for nine days – and unhealthy for the general population on a tenth.

An “unhealthy” air quality rating indicates people should restrict outdoor or strenuous activity, according to the group.

On poor air quality days, the group requests area residents voluntarily reduce motor vehicle use to reduce pollution.

The Clean Air Partnership is led by the American Lung Association, St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, East-West Gateway Council of Governments, and Washington University.

In its 2020 rankings last month, the American Lung Association rated the St. Louis area the 25th cleanest in the nation, terms of short-term particle pollution.

However, for the ranking, the association defines the St. Louis area to include a wide swath or rural, as far away as Farmington, Missouri.

Daily air quality color-coded forecasts are available via email by registering at

Local roads gain new status amid growth

Reflecting changes in land use and travel patterns, the East-West Gateway Council of Government (EWG) is calling for the functional reclassification of three increasingly well-used Metro East roadways – a step toward federal funding for improvements.

In general, public roadways are classified as arterial, collector, or local, according to documents prepared for the April 29 meeting of the EWG Board of Directors.

To qualify for Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Surface Transportation Block Grant – Suballocated (STP-S) funding, a roadway in urban areas must be classified as a minor collector or higher, and, in rural areas, as a major collector or higher.

The reclassifications were proposed to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) by county or local officials during a submission period that closed in November.

Recommended for reclassification by the EWG Board are:

  • Junction Drive – from Illinois Route 159 to Cougar Drive in Glen Carbon – from local road to minor collector,
  • Cougar Drive — from Junction Drive to Illinois Route 159 in Glen Carbon – from local road to minor collector, and
  • Town Center Drive – from Illinois Route 159 to Pleasant Ridge Road in Maryville – from local road to minor collector.

The proposed classification updates will now be forwarded to IDOT headquarters for final review and subsequent submittal to FHWA for final approval.

Based on staff recommendations, the EWG board opted not to recommend reclassification of two local roads in Swansea: Big Bend Boulevard/Twin Lake Drive from Goldenrod Lane to Huntwood Road, and Botanical Drive from Green Haven Drive to Illinois Route 159.

The board is recommending reclassification of four segments of roadway on the Missouri side of the St. Louis area.

IDOT and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) accept proposals for road reclassification semiannually, with a comprehensive review of all roadways every three years.

In other action the EWG board also approved four new Metro East road projects, including shoulder work on Illinois Route 163, from Illinois Route 157 from to South Prairie/DuPont Creek, at a total cost of $1,145,000.

Survey sites top potential trade markets

Mexico, Canada, South America, and Europe are the top target markets for Southwestern Illinois exports, according to a survey of area businesses by the Southwest Illinois Trade & Investment Council (SITIC).

However, area manufacturers say they need training, education, and marketing data to reach those potential new customers, according to the survey.

With international trade talks largely stalled by the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, SITIC is currently hoping to facilitate “virtual” trade meetings for local businesses and potential foreign customers; using services like Zoom or Skype.

In March, Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler and O’Fallon Mayor Herb Roach were forced to postpone a promising trade mission to Japan, due to the spread of COVID-19 in that nation. The trip was to follow-up on a visit to Metro East by a group of Japanese business representatives last year.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SITIC’s scheduled April 23 quarterly meeting was cancelled.  Election of the O’Fallon-based trade association’s 2020 officers is now scheduled for its next quarterly meeting, July 23, at Mid-America Airport.


‘FreightWeek’ goes virtual

Collaboration between Missouri and Illinois on inland port development — amid both a changing global trade environment and the COVID-19 pandemic — will be among the panel discussion topics at the third annual FreightWeekSTL conference, May 18–22.

Other major panel discussions will center on innovative efforts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Kaskaskia Regional Port District to keep the Jerry F. Costello Lock and Dam open longer during historic 2019 flooding. The presentation will also cover measures now underway to respond to other disasters such as COVID-19 pandemic.

A 2021 Priority Projects List for St. Louis area logistic infrastructure and a new Industrial Market Report for the region will be released.

Though held over the past two year in conjunction with the Inland Marine Expo (IMX) conference, an annual inland and intracoastal marine transportation industry trade show in St. Louis, the FreightWeek meeting this year will be offered online. IMX has been postponed until this fall.

The FreightWeek conference is produced by the St. Louis Freightway, a part of the Bi-State Development Agency established a regional transportation development district.

For registration, schedule STL, and access, log onto Following the conference, content will be posted to the website and the Freightway’s social media channels.

The St. Louis Freightway is an enterprise of the Bi-State Development Agency, which is attempting to establish a freight transportation district in the St. Louis region.

LCCC recruiting online

On the heels of a successful trial in April, Lewis and Clark Community College (LCCC) is scheduling additional Trailblazer Talks virtual student recruiting events.

Held over the Blackboard Collaborate, the online events are open to all prospective students, with no account necessary. Blackboard Collaborate is a virtual classroom service, used for online teaching and web conferencing.

Participants will have the opportunity to view a short presentation on the LCCC admissions process, virtual offerings and financial aid, and participate in a Q&A session with enrollment and financial aid representatives.

Schedules and access information for the programs are as follows:

May 8, Noon-1 p.m. –, or call in at 571-392-7650, PIN: 3326146059.

May 18, 4-5 p.m. –, or call in at 571-392-7650, PIN: 7775842246.

May 29, Noon- 1 p.m. – , or call in at 571-392-7650, PIN: 1194703363

LCCC’s physical campuses are currently closed, in compliance with Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The college is planning to deliver summer 2020 classes online.

LCCC administrators have not determined whether to offer classes on-campus or online this fall.

Updates regarding on-campus or online classes will be posted for the public at

For more information, contact Hodge at or visit to apply or enroll today.