Ask the Road Crew

Ask the Road Crew

Winter weather is making an early appearance in St. Louis, so get the best information about driving, road conditions, tips and more from the Road Crew during the weekly chat. Join our experts from MoDOT, St. Louis and St. Louis County on Wednesday, Nov, 14 at 1 p.m.

    Last week, a Road Crew reader asked why westbound Clayton Road's left turn signal on to Highland Terrace/St. Rita Avenue in Richmond Heights activates at all hours, even when no traffic is present. ST. LOUIS COUNTY'S REPLY: While recently replacing a water main on Clayton Road, Missouri American Water damaged the pavement-imbedded vehicle sensors for westbound Clayton Road's left turn on to Highland Terrace/St. Rita. As a result, these sensors - i.e., "detection loops" - are unable to detect vehicles. We therefore set this signal phase to provide "green" time for each signal cycle. This is why you're seeing the left turn arrow, even when no traffic is present. The damaged sensors will be replaced next year, once our Clayton Road improvement project is complete. David Wrone, St. Louis County
    With a significant snow event likely later tonight and tomorrow, St. Louis County crews will begin spreading salt this afternoon on our residential/subdivision streets. Our winter response team will then shift its salting operations to our arterial road system. (Arterial roads are major routes such as Forest Park Parkway, Shackelford, Jennings Station, Baxter, Clayton Road, Hanley, Big Bend, Reavis Barracks and Union.) With five to seven inches of snow expected to descend on the region by tomorrow, our drivers will plow and salt through the night to keep our roads and streets as safe as conditions allow. David Wrone, St. Louis County
    Also last week, a reader asked what impact the Affton Plaza development would have on Tobey and Swifton avenues, immediately north of Gravois Road. ST. LOUIS COUNTY'S REPLY:  The plaza development will consume both streets. Neither will exist.
    Dave,
    About six months ago, a section of pavement in the 10100 block of Mackenzie Road raised up. St Louis County Highways and Traffic placed two temporary orange signs with the words "BUMP" facing each direction of traffic to alert motorists. That's been the extent of action on this. I've called the 615-8538 service line a couple times with no results. Can you check into this? Thank you.
    I'll check on this and post an answer as soon as I learn anything. David Wrone, St. Louis County
    Could a flashing left-turn arrow be added for the southbound traffic on Kingshighway at the new left-turn to Shaw (toward the Botanical Garden)? At some times of day, there would be time for several cars to turn left.
    We can take a look at the evaluation that was done when the signal was reinstalled.  The left turn treatment ("protected" - turn on arrow only, "permissive" - yielding turns only on green, and "protected-permissive" - yielding turns allowed on green AND on arrow) are analyzed looking at volume of left turning traffic, opposing through traffic, number of lanes opposing, etc.  The left turn treatment that exists now, protected-only, is the most restrictive - very likely due to the large amount of opposing traffic throughout the day that makes a turn on green ball not feasible.
    In St. Louis Co. a traffic light was installed at the main entrance of Queeny Park on Weidman Rd. some years ago. Prior to that there was a stop sign exiting the park which worked just fine except when there was a special event such as High School graduations etc.. At those times traffic officers would provide a safe opportunity for exiting traffic by stopping traffic on Weidman for a period. This arrangement kept traffic flowing efficiently 99% of the time.
    What we see with the light in operation now is that whenever there is a car or two wanting to exit they wait for the signal. I have often seen a car waiting while I am approaching that could have been gone by the time any traffic on Weidman got to them. Instead the light changes just in time to stop that approaching car just as it gets to the intersection to let the park traffic out. If it were a flashing light that car would have been long gone and the traffic flow on Weidman never interfered with. Couldn't that light be flashing red for the park and yellow for Weidman 90% of the time?
    I'll forward this to our signals group, and will post their response in a future Road Crew. David Wrone, St. Louis County
    Our signal crews will check it out.  Looks like a reoccurring issue with large vehicles likely being the culprit in turning & knocking the signal head out of alignment.  We will look at better placement away from the intersection if possible.
    The traffic signal on the Southwest corner of Enright and Grand, that should be facing North, is turned 90 degrees and facing east, possibly causing pedestrians on the south side of Enright who are crossing from east to west to mistakenly think they are crossing on a green light, when in reality vehicles traveling north or south on Grand have a green light and may strike them if the individuals enter the intersection. This is a highly confusing and dangerous situation. I called to report this perhaps 6 months ago when it happened to me. I didn’t know the cause, I just knew we were almost struck by a car when we thought we had a green light and you correctly identified that the signal may have been turned 90 degrees after having been knocked by something. Last night was the first time I had been back to the intersection, crossing the same way, and the very same thing almost happened to me. But this time I knew to check carefully and after crossing, I could clearly see the signal is turned out of position.
  • The past few winters I've noticed that quite a bit more road salt is being used than seems necessary. On some of the busier streets (like Manchester, Olive, Big Bend) there is so much salt residue that passing cars are kicking up clouds of salt dust. You can feel this stuff in your throat and nasal passages and it really dries you out, not to mention what its doing to car bodies. Is there any way to cut back on the salt usage? This isn't directed at any agency in particular, it seems to be widespread around St Louis.

    thanks.
  • I can't speak for the other teams on the chat, but we try to be as efficient as we can during every storm, and we balance the amount of treatment for the type of precipitation.  Treatment can be expensive, and we want to make sure that we get the job done, but don't waste the treatment unnecessarily.  We have had several ice-heavy storms over the past few years, though, and it tends to take a bit more treatment to melt through ice (especially when combined with cold temperatures) than through an equivalent amount of snow.  Our ultimate goal is to provide the level of service that Missouri taxpayers expect (make roadways as passable as we can as quickly as we can, based on the roadway priorities,) while using the resources allotted to us as effectively as possible.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • Do you have any jurisdiction over Warson Road running between Conway and Ladue? There is a manhole at the curb edge of the northbound roadway, just south of Ladue Automotive (gas station and car repair), that has a huge dip that could cause a bicyclist heading north and hugging the side of the lane as a car passes to topple over when striking the manhole dip. It comes up suddenly and is difficult to see so it is likely too late for a cyclist to slow down and possibly steer safely around it. Is it possible to raise the rim of the manhole or to paint it brightly so one can see it well ahead?
  • Our Operations personnel will investigate. David Wrone, St. Louis County
  • When can we expect the striping and lights on Dorsett to be completed?
  • We still need to install the signals' loop detectors - the pavement-imbedded sensors that activate the lights - after which we can stripe. However, we can't stripe unless it's at least 55 degrees, so this phase will be dependent on the weather. At the very earliest, this work will be completed by the week after Thanksgiving. David Wrone, St. Louis County
  • For the last month the light at 4th and Spruce (downtown) is not in the same sync as over the summer. Cars sit at a red light while no cars go north on 4th for the last month. Can the signal be changed back? Thanks!
  • Our traffic engineers will check it out - thanks for sharing your observations
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