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Comprehensive Plan

Comprehensive Plan

Washington, Missouri is a third-class City with a Mayor-Council form of government which was incorporated in 1839 and located on the southern bank of the Missouri River in Franklin County.  The City encompasses approximately nine square miles and had a 2010 population count of 13,982 persons.

The City is located on the outer-ring of the St. Louis Metropolitan Area.  The City of Washington, whose nickname is “The Corn Cob Pipe Capital of the World” has been characterized as a historic river town which has experienced new residential, commercial and industrial growth during the last two decades.

The City is at the intersection of State Highways 100 and 47.  Interstate 44 is located 10 miles to the east with Interstate 70 approximately 20 miles to the north.  Downtown St. Louis and the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport are approximately 50 miles to the northeast.

The City of Washington serves as both a regional retail center and employment center in the area.  Its retail service area consists of 150,000 citizens with over $370 million in annual retail sales.  The community also serves to employ 7,000 area workers, including over 1,400 health care professionals.

The City was named for George Washington after it came under American control.  The community was first settled during the rule of the Spanish empire and was originally called St. John Meyer’s settlement.  It was the site of a Spanish log fort called San Juan del Misuri (1796-1803.)

Daniel Boone settled in the area beginning in 1799.  In 1814 a ferry boat was granted a license to cross the Missouri River and the settlement became known as Washington Landing.

William G. Owens and his wife Lucinda settled in the area in 1818.  They purchased almost 50 acres of land along the Missouri River which would eventually become the town center.  In 1827 a town was laid out and lots were auctioned off in 1829.  The cost of land would be waived if the buyer could build a substantial home within two years.

William Owens was murdered in 1834.  His death caused various legal entanglements.  These legal circumstances were not resolved by with widow until 1839.  At that time, Lucinda Owens filed a plat at the Franklin County Courthouse to establish the town.  The town of Washington was incorporated on May 29, 1839.

The actual 2010 Censes population count for the City of Washington was 13,982.  This compares with a 2000 Census population count of 13,243.  This increase of 739 persons reflects a modest population growth of around 5% of the total.  There are 7,300 females and 6,682 males within the community.  The median age is 39.4 years.  The population was 11,367 and 9,251 for 1990 and 1980 respectively.

The continental climate characterizes this area and features long, humid summers, moderate winters and ample precipitation.  This description of any particular season must be qualified, however, by frequent changes which may occur from day-to-day in Missouri.  This fact is explained by Missouri’s location with respect to the movements of three major air masses.  Canadian air masses approach from the northwest as cold or cool high-pressure zones.  Warm moist air comes from the Gulf of Mexico, and dry air approaches from the west.  The mixing of two air masses often produces turbulence; with more than half of the annual precipitation falling during April through August during thunderstorm events.  Thunderstorms from the colliding air masses are also the source of tornadoes.

The City of Washington contains Mercy Hospital Washington located along Highway 47 just south of the Missouri River at 901 East 5th Street.  The hospital is a level-3 trauma center and a member of the Sisters of Mercy Health Care System.  This 187-bed acute care facility has been a recipient of the National Top 100 Hospitals Award a total of five times.  In 2005, the hospital also received the PRiMARIS Award from the State of Missouri.  This award is given to one hospital in the State of Missouri on an annual basis.

In July 2011, the Sisters of Mercy Health Care System announced its plans to invest $236 million of capital improvements into its Washington, Missouri facilities over the next decade.

These expenditures will include replacement of the existing facility.  Mercy is a $3.9 billion health system which owns and operates 28 hospitals across several States.  More information on Mercy hospitals can be found at

The City of Washington has an extensive street network throughout the community with major automotive routes being Highway 47 over the Missouri River as the principal north-south arterial and Highway 100 being the main east-west connector.  Both highways connect to Interstate 44.  Highway 47 crosses the Missouri River at the City of Washington.  The Missouri River Bridge is one of the 14 bridges in the community.  The Highway 47 Bridge was originally constructed in 1934 and is 2,562 feet long, with two 11-foot lanes and no shoulders.  The I-beam, deck truss and cantilevered through-truss span design carries approximately 10,000 vehicles per day.  The bridge was rehabilitated in 1996 and again in 2009.

Bicyclists and pedestrians have both on-street and off-street opportunities throughout the City of Washington.  The trailhead for the Washington Bikeway Rotary Riverfront Trail is located in Rennick Riverfront Park.  The trail is approximately three miles in length and “runs” adjacent to the Missouri River.  The paved trail accommodates both bicyclists and pedestrians and allows access into the on-street system.

A bicycle/pedestrian plan was presented to the City of Washington in September 2011 to expand the City’s network Highlights of their plan included the following:
•13 miles of warning signs along Highway 47, Fifth Street, South Point Road and Bluff Road
•33 miles of bike routes principally along Third, Eighth, Stafford and Front Streets
•6 miles of shared-lanes along Fifth Street, Jefferson Street and International Avenue
•5 miles of multi-purpose (off-street) trails to include an extension of the Rotary Riverfront Trail, Busch Creek Trail, Camp Street Connector and a dedicated bicycle lane on the new Highway 47 Missouri River Bridge

The bicycle and pedestrian facilities plan was a joint effort between the City of Washington and Trailnet, a non-profit advocate for such facilities in the St. Louis metropolitan region.

The City of Washington maintains an active program of street improvements around the community.  Many of these street improvements are undertaken with a match of monies through the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.  From 2005 through 2011 a total of $12 million was spent on improving the streets throughout the community.  This included approximately $5.4 million of East-West Gateway allocations and the remaining $6.6 million was spent from the City’s transportation sales tax revenues.  In addition to various roadway improvements, the City has a Novachip program to “chip and seal” various streets and an on-going basis.

The City of Washington has 14 parks which total over 430 acres in area.

There are several groups in the City of Washington who have an interest in the historic and cultural resources of the community.  The main organization is the Washington Historical Society.  This organization is dedicated to the preservation of Washington’s historical resources.

The City of Washington depends on tourism to some extent to showcase the community, as well as provide enhanced revenues from those visiting the community and making purchases.

The community hosts a number of events throughout the year.  This provides the opportunity for area residents to get-together, attracts tourists and tourism-generated dollars and enhances the overall quality-of-life.

Washington, Missouri is a major employment and manufacturing center with over 65 industries.  It is also a major medical center with over 100 doctors and a 187-bed hospital, Mercy Hospital of Washington.

The area is supported by the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce.  The Chamber supports area businesses and maintains an active website at for information concerning the community and in support of local businesses.

Downtown Washington, Inc. is an organization which promotes business and events in downtown Washington.  One of the notable specialized business activities supported by Downtown Washington is the Farmers Market.  The market, located at 317 West Main Street offers a variety of baked goods, canned goods and crafts.  The products are locally grown by the vendors.  Since the Farmers Market is under a permanent awning, it is open “rain or shine.”  The market is open on Saturdays from the beginning of April until Christmas and on Wednesdays from May through October.

A key element of any successful Comprehensive Plan is public participation.  It was decided early in the process that public input would be important in development of the Plan.  The public participation process involved a combination of public meetings and the use of social media.

One of the key tasks associated with development of a Comprehensive Plan is the assessment of land use.  The reason that this task is important to the process, is because it provides the framework upon which to make future land use decisions affecting the City of Washington.

The first step involved is a preparation of an Existing Land Use Map.  The Existing Land Use Map shows the specific land use which is occurring on each individual parcel located within the Washington City Limits.  The existing land use information was compiled by the City of Washington Staff based upon a review of the adopted Existing Land Use Map from the current Comprehensive Plan, coupled with development changes which have occurred within the community over the last decade.

Comprehensive planning involves local citizens in the process of developing a vision for their community.  Communicating with the community is critical in developing sound planning solutions as well as building support for the Comprehensive Plan.  The process used for communicating with the Washington community utilized various methods to engage the local public.  These included traditional methods such as public meetings/workshops and use of the City’s website, as well as newer methods such as social media sites.  These social sites, very popular in this Information Age, have proven to be a very effective means of communicating with the public.

The social media sites of Facebook and Twitter were developed specifically for the Washington Comprehensive Plan to provide an easily accessible media which communicated information regarding the planning process.  The social media sites allowed the posting of meeting notices, meeting results and photos and links to on-line surveys.  These sites also provided a method for the public to communicate with the consultant Project Team, beyond the more traditional public meeting/workshop format.

This portion of the City of Washington Comprehensive Plan is by far the most important of the overall Plan.  This Implementation Strategy section details the 42 goals and 144 objectives necessary to assist the community achieve its desired vision for the future.  These goals and objectives is the culmination of a thirteen month effort involving three public participation meetings, an official Public Hearing and many hours of discussion between the consultant Project Team, the Steering Committee and City Staff.  The goals and objectives are categorized under the six key focus topic areas identified early in the Comprehensive Plan process.