Ask the Road Crew

Ask the Road Crew

Hmm, anybody want to talk about last weekend's snow and what it did to St. Louis area highways and roads? Ask about that, construction or any other topics in the weekly Road Crew chat with experts from MoDOT, St. Louis and St. Louis County. Join them on Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 1 p.m.

    I do not suspect this will be answered due to the critical tone, but why was no effort made to force semi traffic to pull over rather than allowing them to continuously wreck and eventually block 44 at Antire? If the roads were not cleared and could not be cleared, why not force the semis off at earlier exits or force them to pull over? Instead, we were left with hundreds of semis parked on an interstate blocking every lane of traffic when the semis deemed the roads to be unpassable. The road itself was passable to regular autos, just not semis. Instead of stopping semi traffic until the road could be plowed, you continued to allow semi traffic, creating a parking lot for semis for several miles of highway, and in turn blocked every vehicle (including those easily capable of passing) from getting home. This seems like a horrible case of planning by MODOT and MSHWP, as this was a predictable problem, and even one that was identifiable after about an hour into the snow event. I understand the difficulty in plowing with the traffic - then the solution should have been to manage the traffic to allow for plowing or to allow for capable vehicles to pass.
    Interstates are public roadways, and so you cannot "force" a vehicle (especially a semi) to not use the roadway (especially if you are leaving the roadway open to cars).  Often times, semi drivers are tracked (and routed) using GPS and then are severely penalized by the company for straying from that route.  We can, and did, encourage truck traffic to use alternate routes.  In addition, one should also expect the semi traffic to know their abilities and to be able to make choices based on the capabilities of the vehicle and the driver.  Closing an interstate is not something that any organization takes lightly (unless there are specific safety reasons to do so (blocked lanes, flooding, etc), and pre-emptively closing (for the possibility of an issue) is also not done often.  That being said, although some of the issues were semis, there were many other vehicles which had problems negotiating that stretch of highway.  Our team worked hand in hand with several partners, including the highway patrol, to get crews into those closed sections of interstates and moving vehicles and plowing roads, as quickly as we could.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    So driving on interstates and secondary roads in Illinois on Saturday morning seemed trouble-free and LITERALLY upon crossing bridges into Missouri, the roads were much worse. Is there an explanation for this?
    There can be many reasons why there were differences between both sides of the Mississippi River.  Besides the potential differences in weather patterns and the hills in Missouri, there are significant differences in the number and size of major roadways, and in the number of vehicles trying to use those roadways.  Like Illinois, we devoted all the available resources we had in the St. Louis area to preparing for and battling this most recent winter storm.  We even brought in crews from other areas of the state that weren't as affected to help augment our crews.  And like Illinois crews, the department's men and women out there take a lot of pride in doing everything they can to get the road as clear as they can as quickly as they can. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • The crews that plow the roads - what do they do the rest of the year for MoDOT when it's not snowing? Or are they contract workers?
  • Most of the crews who work on the road are the same ones who patch potholes, fix guardrails, clean up trash, clean out drains and all the other roadway maintenance tasks which need to be done.  Some of the extra crews we bring on are those who work on construction and design projects, as well as the other support tasks for the organization.  During a snow fight, we use a lot of people (mechanics, loaders, customer service) to try to get the roadways as clear as we can as quickly as we can.  For those working, if they aren't doing their regular job, they are typically in a plow or at one of our maintenance sheds.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    FYI you could have forced semi trucks off roads due weather emergency. And don’t give this bull crap you can’t. Many states do. Your just sucking up to trucking lobby which is very big in Sw Missouri. BTW most semtruxks should be on the rails not tearing up our roads and causing 8 hours road closures because incompetent ill trained semi drivers.
    Thank you for sharing your opinions.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • Clayton Road between Skinker and Brentwood is a war zone. The entire stretch is in desperate need of re-paving. Any plans for this?
  • We actually began an improvement project on this stretch of Clayton Road last October. When work is complete this fall, Clayton Road will have a new driving surface from Skinker west to the city limits of Ladue (a total of 2.4 miles). Our contractor will also remove and replace deteriorated curb and sidewalk and build more than 100 wheelchair-accessible ramps on both sides of Clayton. With a price tag of nearly $4 million, this is a very significant upgrade to our infrastructure. David Wrone, St. Louis County
  • STL County - I nearly wiped out on a pothole on SB Big Bend moments ago. Location is near 2010. Thank you.
  • I will forward this to our Operations group for action. David Wrone, St. Louis County
  • Last week, a Road Crew participant asked about excavation work being done off Hanna Road. This is a Missouri American Water Company project; they're installing a new water main at this location. David Wrone, St. Louis County
  • Every year the same excuses regarding snow removal On the highways It's like the engineers are whoever', is surprise of the weather conditions Someone needs to be fired We will continue this comment section Next year same situation same management
  • Thank you for sharing your comment.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • STL County - Yesterdag evening, traffic exiting from EB 44 to Laclede Station was backing up onto the highway causing a dangerous situation. I have reported this countless times over the years but no adjustments were made. Compounding this is the signal at Wilshusen is slow to trigger a green. Cars got trapped here blocking NB Laclede Station. Horn honking & curse words - a typical day driving in this area.
  • I have forwarded your message to our signals group. However, the issues you've outlined may well not be 100 percent resolvable. This is, as you're no doubt aware, a VERY congested interchange - with major arteries (I-44 and Laclede Station Road) sharing signal time with lesser but still-heavily traveled roads like Murdoch and Wilshusen. 'Tweaks"/adjustments are often simply insufficient to entirely eradicate congestion during certain periods of the day, and can often exacerbate congestion issues further down a particular road - in this instance, Laclede Station. David Wrone, St. Louis County
  • How did you end up getting all the stuck cars / trucks off of I-44 on Friday night? What's the process for a project of that magnitude?
    We put all available resources to work to clear the incident.  We had a great partnership with our law enforcement partners, as well as our emergency response and towing partners.  Everyone did a really good job with resources spread thin across the area,  We used law enforcement escorts to enter the locations backwards, to get to those vehicles at the front of the queue.  As ER and towing crews worked to clear vehicles, our crews worked to clear the roadways.  The whole process came moving backward along the interstate until we were able to get all the vehicles freed.  Highway patrol and emergency response also went from vehicle to vehicle to ensure that motorists had water and food.  Anything of this magnitude takes a lot of coordination at all levels of the state. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • Nnow that the Shop-n-Save on Chippewa at Kingshighway is closed/empty, and the Applebee's is empty, can you please get rid of that asinine stop light? The traffic exiting Walgreens doesn't need a light.
  • That traffic signal serves other business in that plaza, but what we can do is verify if the vehicle and pedestrian detection is working to ensure "false" calls are not going to side street without any activity there.   A traffic signal will fail-safe to a constant call when equipment malfunctions to prevent the signal from never cycling to the side street.  Our signal technicians will investigate this.
  • Any word on what's going on with the Shrewsbury I-44 bridge study on the cracks.
  • We and the contractor working on the project are currently reviewing the study, and will be meeting soon to discuss the next steps for the project.  When we make the determination on those steps, we will share that with the public.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • Are the express lanes on I-70 still expected to open this Friday/weekend, or did the snow push that back another week?
  • We still expect the express lanes to open by Friday morning rush period this week.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • Can you shed some light on the current construction on the Soccer Park Rd. exit from I-44W? It looks like a new left turn is being constructed, but that would seem to be redundant to the existing through lane that goes to the north outer rd. I looked on the bridge construction website and there doesn't appear to be any details about this.
  • There are a lot of traffic staging shifts that need to be completed during the bridge project -- most of those are to ensure that traffic access continues to be available to the outer road while additional construction is being completed on the westbound bridge (and the bridge that combines the traffic heading to soccer park from I-44/I-270 and the traffic heading from I-270 to westbound I-44.)  That work is preparatory work for one of those upcoming traffic shifts.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
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