Ask the Road Crew

Ask the Road Crew

Ask the Road Crew for help if you see bad light timing, pothole problems and other road issues. Join the weekly chat on Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 1 p.m. with our experts from MoDOT, St. Louis and St. Louis County.

    The construction at I-44 and MO-141 has picked up, but they've been closing lanes during the morning commute and causing a lot of backups, particularly between 8 and 9am. Why do they not wait until say 9am to start closing lanes on such a busy interchange?

    Also, there hasn't been any activity at MO-141 and Vance/Forest/Marshall in a while. When can we expect to see progress? The new right-turn lane from Forest to NB 141 appears to be nearly complete but has been sitting untouched.
    The contractor working on the project should not have any lane closures on northbound Route 141 before 9 a.m. -- that is the direction that we consider rush traffic in the morning. Because the volume of vehicles is much lower southbound, we have allowed the contractor to close lanes southbound earlier. If you see a northbound lane closure before 9 a.m., please let our Transportation Management Center know at 1-888-ASK-MODOT. They can let the construction team know that the contractor is out early. There is still some significant work as far as Forest/Vance/Marshall goes -- for instance, sidewalks and curbing and the island. The contractor (and subcontractors) have some leeway in when the work gets done. Wintertime is not necessarily conducive to concrete work. The concrete crews will be back out in when the weather warms up a little, working on that area. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Coming from 70 east when it turns into 44 right before the 7th street exit, I have been run off the road into the shoulder twice from the fast lane because vehicles are confused by the striping. Is there a plan to re-stripe that stretch now that the construction is done? Thank you!
    We are having problems getting the pavement dry enough to put down new stripes. Right now, they are hoping to try to get that in tomorrow. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Good morning and thanks for hosting these chats. Yesterday morning at 7:15 I got onto I-55 northbound at Loughborough. Traffic was heavy from the outset and as I got close to the Poplar Street bridge exit, traffic was at a standstill. My destination was in Illinois so I exited downtown and figured that I could get onto the eastbound Poplar Street bridge/I-64 around 6th street (not sure if that is the correct entrance ramp). In any event, the ramp was closed, so I ended up getting on around 20th street (again not sure if that is the correct street name). When I finally got on the bridge it looked like there was an active construction site as I-64 was only down to one lane and it appeared that no one was entering the bridge for I-44/I-55. Was yesterday an aberration or will there be future construction that affects this, and will the ramp to I-64 remain closed? By the way none of the television or radio stations mentioned this.
    In part, yesterday was an aberration. There was a stalled tractor trailer truck on the ramp from NB I-55 to EB I-64; that closed the ramp and prevented traffic from getting on the bridge. We did have some work on eastbound I-64 -- rush traffic is on westbound, so typically, closing a lane eastbound in the morning does not generally create significant traffic backup. With one lane closed before the bridge, we typically need to close the ramp from 6th Street for safety. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Is MoDOT planning to pre-treat the highways in advance of the predicted ice storm, or should we all just plan on staying home?
    MoDOT will treat the highways before any potential ice storms begin. We will also have full crews working for the duration of the storm. That being said, ice is a fairly challenging storm to fight, so since there is a potential for a high amount of ice, we are encouraging drivers to avoid travel if possible. If you must travel, be well prepared for winter weather with a full tank of gas, warm clothing and snacks and water. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Regarding 141 and 44, there was a lane closed NB this morning at about 8am that was causing backups. Not sure how long it had been closed.
    One more note on 44 and 141. The southbound direction closure has been the one that's been causing me an impact. It's added 5-10 minutes to my morning commute around 8:30am the last couple of days. The lane wasn't closed today, though NB 141 was.
    I'll pass this along to our construction team. As far as the southbound lane closure goes, was it simply too much traffic, or were there backups as drivers attempted to merge into the open lanes? Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Again, thanks for hosting these chats. Does MODOT have a segmented budget for on-going striping throughout the area? Or is that tied to the area around each particular improvement project? Rural roads are much better but arguably application is a much simpler task when it involves long stretches of road and simple lane markers. It seems the Metro area goes long periods of time without re-striping lanes and intersections whereas unless the roads are newly renovated the lane markers and direction symbols are nearly worn away. Compare this to other cities and especially Europe where pavement symbols are always prominent and distinguishable year round and over the long term. This I would argue goes a long way in helping traffic flow and reducing accidents.
    Most of the striping done on state roadways is through our maintenance team. We have 6,800 lane miles of state roadway in the greater St. Louis area and a limited number of striping vehicles. We make every effort to get out to get every state road restriped each year. If you see an area that is very faded, please let us know and we will see about getting our crew out to touch up the stripes. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Why has the westbound I-70 express lane been shut down and are there any plans to open it back up, alternating between the morning and evening commutes?
    Traffic continues to be heavier going eastbound on I-44 into the city than outbound in both the morning and evening commutes. We continue to monitor the situation and will consider reversing the express lane directions if traffic levels in the evening heading to westbound I-70. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    It looks like the sb southbound ramp going from I-55 to Loughborough was resurfaced fairly recently, but there are 2 fairly large dips in it where the previous storm drains are still lower than the new pavement, can this be improved at all?
    I have asked our maintenance team to take a look at the storm drains to see if they can make any improvements. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    What time approx. is this ice supposed to start? Late Thursday? Not until Friday?
    We are not weather forecasters -- we rely on several organizations to give us information on potential storms during the winter. However, the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch starting late tomorrow night. Local forecasters would probably be able to give you better information, especially as we move into tomorrow. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    It often seems that when cities finally get around to repaving a major street like Chouteau or Jefferson, some utility company comes behind them maybe six months later and digs up huge squares for repair work. I always thought the utilities were required to put the streets back like they found them. Instead, we end up with ugly patches of uneven concrete and dipping pavement all over the city. With the exception of emergency repair work, is there any way the city and utility companies can coordinate the work in advance so this doesn't happen? Or can they be forced to put it back properly? It seems like such a waste of taxpayer money.
    It is a challenge to coordinate so many utility projects with the local agencies and we've learned a lot from each other over recent times. The process is getting better as we are in constant contact with one another and putting in efforts to plan ahead for the exact things you mentioned. We can only promise to continue that commitment to improve even more so in the future.
    St. Louis City seems bent on making it harder for drivers to get in and out of the city. Narrower lanes, bicycle lanes and planters in the middle of the street hinder traffic, especially downtown and South City where city officials encourage people to go. Is the goal to get more people on Metro or to stop coming to the city altogether? What once was a very driveable city is becoming a frustrating bottleneck of long, single lanes of traffic.
    The City of St. Louis has a goal of providing mobility for users of all modes of transportation as well as ensuring that neighborhood streets continue to function as safe, low volume, low speed facilities. That said, there are times when lanes are re-striped more narrow than they were before (however still within the federal standards), bicycle lanes are added in areas (where excess roadway capacity is determined to be available) in order to provide accommodations for cyclists, and traffic circles are often used as a traffic calming measure (to combat excessive speeding and cut-through traffic on neighborhood streets). In the end, we are trying to provide the ability and options for folks to get around our city safely in more than just one manner.
    Stopping short of saying nearly everywhere... I'd say start by re-striping the areas that have the most congestion and require the most complexity when it comes to lane positioning which is the most detrimental to efficient traffic flow. 1) All of the intersections around the 64/170/Brentwood Blvd/Hanley/Promenade interchanges. They have mostly faded away and are extremely hard to see in wet conditions. 2) 141 N&S through Valley Park and underneath 44 needs to be cleaned or have temporary stripe tape added because the original lines are faded or covered due to the increased construction debris. Positioning cars through this corridor has become a free-for-all.
    I will pass them along to our maintenance team; however, plows, winter weather, and road treatments are not kind to stripes. Typically we start much of our touch-up work when temps warm up (and roads stay drier). I am told that we just restriped the area on Route 141 near I-44 on Friday. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    You'll need to check with the City of Clayton, as Clayton maintains that section of Brentwood as well as Forsyth. Sorry I can't be of assistance. David Wrone, St. Louis County
    Hi! What work is being done at the corner of Forsyth and Brentwood (the NE corner of Shaw Park) and do you have an approximate estimated completion date? Not having the right turn lane from EB Forsyth to SB Brentwood is causing some backups in the evenings. Just checking to see how long that will last. Thanks and good luck with Winter Storm Jupiter!
    On Sunday afternoon, a friend and I spent about an hour driving .02 miles on I-270, just south of Manchester Road. There was a huge accident at Big Bend, and if there were signs about it, we missed them.

    My question regards traffic control, or the lack thereof. Once the accident site is secured, and the appropriate vehicles are summoned, why don't the police do something to keep the problem from getting worse? The southbound entrance ramps weren't shut off; there were no officers directing traffic on the expressway itself. More cars kept getting on from Manchester, making the pileup worse, and there was no move to get anyone to exit at Dougherty Ferry Road. But there should have been personnel available to help - along with Des Peres and Kirkwood, couldn't St. Louis County, Frontenac, and Sunset Hills officers (to name a few) be called in?

    It was awful sitting there, with the exit in sight, sucking in fumes, worrying about running out of gas. Other drivers finally started driving up the entrance ramp to Manchester, and we were were eventually able to get off, too.

    This isn't the first time I've seen something like this. Why isn't there more concern - again, once the site and any victims are secured - for the people trapped on the highway?

    Law Enforcement does not directly work for us. When we have a crash on the roadway, we do everything we can to put information up on the overhead message boards to warn people to avoid the area. During a crash, law enforcement is in charge of the area, and they work with us, depending on the situation. Often crash response changes very quickly based on the situation. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    St. Louis County doesn't maintain this bridge. You may wish to check with the City of Maryland Heights. David Wrone, St. Louis County
    Is the bridge over the railroad tracks on Fee Fee Rd south of Dorestt Rd going to be replaced?
    The light at the Jefferson exit from 40 eastbound in the morning - around 6:45AM - seems to be shorter than usual. It used to let a longer stream of cars go through it. Now it seems that only 4 or 5 cars can get through it. Has it changed? Also, the other day (Monday maybe?) it was not turning green. Many cars had to go left (north) on red while others went south and made an illegal u-turn. Can this be checked out? It seems dangerous for cars to back up on the highway while waiting for cars to make either illegal u-turns or illegal turns on red. Thank you!
    I am told that crews fixed a detector issue at this signal today. You can always call in signal malfunctions to our customer service team at 1-888-ASK-MODOT. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    We have an improvement/resurfacing project programmed for Missouri Bottom Road, from Fee Fee to I-270 that will begin this year. Ideally, work would be complete this year, as well, but I can't guarantee that. Phantom Drive, however, is not included in this project. David Wrone, St. Louis County
    Hello, for as long as I have had to drive through Hazelwood on a daily basis (a little over 5 years now), Missouri Bottom Rd and Phantom Drive have been in a terrible state of decay. Specifically, where the railroad tracks cross Missouri Bottom Road there are large potholes which force drivers into the center turn lane to avoid vehicle damage, and on Phantom Drive just north and south of Anglum Rd there are large bumps and potholes in the road. In fact, the right lane of northbound Phantom Drive is not even drivable just before you approach Anglum Rd. Will these two roads ever be fixed?
    Why don't they make the center concrete divider between North and South lanes of Highway 270 about 18" taller? There is no reason for either lane to have to see what is happening on the other side of the road. I think this would cut down on the amount of rubber necking accidents, and force people to pay attention to their side of the road.
    Semper fi,
    Maj Chuck Corpening
    Primarily safety -- most of the standard items (such as the center barriers) are designed and crash tested at the national level to ensure that they meet overall standards for safety. If barriers don't meet those standards, we can't use them -- at least without jeopardizing getting funding for the roadway. As far as I am aware, a taller barrier has not been approved for use. It is unfortunate that we have people who insist on rubber-necking instead of paying attention to the road. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    On the Alabama bridge over the River Des Peres, an entire lane has been devoted to a bicycle/pedestrian bridge, are the lanes going to be re-striped for the cars or are we stuck with the current setup? What used to be a very quick commute around that intersection now takes at least 2 if not 3 light cycles to get through.
    The Alabama bridge will have 4 lanes for vehicular traffic while also providing an extension of the Great Rivers Greenway.
    @andrew.gates could use more electronic info signs.
    At this point, we are not considering adding any more overhead message boards. We typically have a board before every major interstate to interstate connection and several along interstates. We understand that it is frustrating if you are caught behind a crash and not able to get off the roadway. We, and law enforcement, do what we can to get the roadway back open to traffic as quickly as we can -- especially during rush periods. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    There is a pothole on Macklind in the southbound lanes as you turn from Oakland.
    I don't know if this has been asked/answered before ... are you allowed to drive in the bicyclist lanes provided there are no cyclist using them?
    We will report the pothole on Macklind to the street crews. As far as bike lanes, vehicles are NOT to drive in them.
    Is there ever any consideration when intersections are undergoing construction (for whatever reason) of adding right turn lanes? I tell you there is nothing quite as frustrating as sitting at a light when you see there is little to no cross traffic and you are kept from turning because you are not the first person in the lane.
    It depends on the traffic levels. During design of a new project, we look at each of the traffic movements (through, left turns and right turns). If one of those movements has sufficient traffic attempting to make it, we look at including it into the project. During construction, space is precious and we have to do everything we can to keep traffic moving -- our focus must be on the movements with the most traffic. During construction, we might have to limit one movement (such as right turns) to keep overall traffic moving smoother. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Mercy Driver -- MoDOT's number to report roadway issues (potholes, signal problems, etc) is 1-888-ASK-MODOT or 275-1500. Andrew Gates, MODOT Communications
    Is there a central clearinghouse for asking law enforcement questions that's equivalent to this? I did call the Des Peres police non-emergency number while I was sitting there, and they acted as if shutting off the entrance ramps was the most outre idea of all time. I think it's common sense.
    I am not aware that law enforcement has a chat room such as this. You might check with the St. Louis County PD. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Comunications
    I want to thank you for extending the light on Kingshighway going to eastbound I-64/40. I mentioned that a couple of different times, and it's now been done. Thank you for doing that and for using this forum to get feedback! I appreciate that.
    You are welcome. I know the MoDOT, St. Louis County and St. Louis City teams work hard to try to keep traffic flowing as best as it can. We, and our teams, appreciate the kudos. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    I've reported this before, to no avail.The signal at Wydown and Skinker needs to be cordinated for left turn cars turning onto Skinker and pedestrians on NW corner trying to cross Skinker. They both get the go ahead at the same time. Someone is going to get hit.
    We will look into providing a leading pedestrian interval here that will give peds a head start before motorists are given green.
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