Ask the Road Crew

Ask the Road Crew

Is your route to work giving you a headache because of potholes, poorly timed lights or street construction? Let the experts know, and ask them your questions about highways and roads. The live chat starts at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22.

    After a long break I recently started driving 141 in Valley Park again. I don’t see any positive changes in traffic on Vance or 141 since the construction project in this area. Comments?
    If you compare traffic levels from  before the project started to now, there has been a 15 percent increase in traffic on Route 141 through the Valley Park area -- where typically, one would expect about a half a percent increase per year. Even with that increase, we are seeing traffic flow through the area quicker -- typically it takes no more than six minutes to get from Big Bend to the south outer road in the peak of traffic (where it would take about three without traffic). Before the job, it was at least six minutes to get through the same stretch of Route 141. Additionally, since about the middle of the project, we have not had to close lanes on Route 141 due to flash flooding -- which was something that tended to happen about six times per year. We do have a few more changes coming up later this year, after our resurfacing project is finished along Route 141 -- that will combine the ramp from eastbound and westbound I-44 from southbound Route 141 into one lane, which should also help.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Jay -- Gratiot is maintained by the city, so I will leave your question in the queue to let them answer it.  However, you ask about the new signal on southbound Berry at I-44.  That is a programming issue that our traffic team is currently working on to develop a workaround.  It may still take some time for them to get that solved. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    With Cigna buying express Scripts why isn’t more being done at 70 and Hanley. Roads are being worked on after water repair, but it’s still pretty embrassing.
    Are you talking about on I-70, or on Hanley?  MoDOT is currently working on improvements on the interchange between I-70 and Route U (Lucas and Hunt), and has a resurfacing project along the interstate that is currently underway.  Next year, we have bridge work along I-70 between Jennings Station Road and Cypress.  We continue to work with major employers along our corridors to make improvements as they are  needed, as funding allows.   Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    For MODOT - Last week, I made the drive down to Little Rock. US 67 in Missouri was fine, down to Poplar Bluff, but turned into a two lane road, after that. In Arkansas, much of US 67 is signed as "Future I-57". Is Missouri considering requesting the same designation, for the entire US 67 corridor? Or, for just the portion south of Poplar Bluff? If Interstate highways are still being funded with a 90% Federal match, it would seem to be a great way to fund needed improvements in an important corridor. Thanks!
    Currently I-57 ends at I-55.  Any future plans to construct the interstate in Missouri would primarily use U.S. 60 to connect to U.S. 67 near Poplar Bluff, as I understand it.  So a future I-57 designation would not be used for the entire U.S. Route 67 corridor in Missouri.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • Regarding the push for drivers to use the zipper merge; in other states, I've seen specific "zipper merge" signage and even "Merge Here" electronic boards used when approaching major construction zones. Is this something that has been considered for Missouri? Iv'e also noticed, in other states when it's a more permanent lane reduction, the signage usually says "Lanes Merge or Merging Lanes" instead of "Lane Ends" - it seems to encourage more cooperation between drivers.
  • We do use a lot of similar signing when we are encouraging use of the zipper merge -- trying not to tell drivers which lane is closed ahead, as drivers (especially here in St. Louis)  have a tendency to want to move into the open lane.  A lot of the determination to encourage the zipper merge is based on the circumstances.  If you have two lanes merging into one, and traffic is at a stop, or nearly stopped(for instance during peak traffic periods)  the zipper merge is most effective.  Having traffic backed up on one side of the merge and not on the other encourages drivers to move to the front of the line and then try to cut in -- if both lanes are full, that helps cut down on that activity. I have seen this work fairly well, even here in St. Louis, when you have slow moving traffic ahead and  you have traffic merging in from a ramp.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • The light at Kingsbury and Big Bend (just north of the intersection with Forest Park Parkway) always cycles to red even if there are no cars waiting on Kingsbury, just after I've turned left from Forest Park eastbound to Big Bend northbound. This then causes me to sit in the left lane waiting to turn onto Kingsbury and blocking one of the through lanes on Big Bend. Invariably, some impatient driver won't wait for me to make my turn and swerves around me to pass on the right, often cutting off another driver.

    Why does this light needlessly cycle when no one is waiting?
  • I'll have our signals group investigate. Thanks for the report. David Wrone, St. Louis County
  • Last week, a Road Crew chat participant asked: “What is going on with the construction on Laclede Station Road leading up to Big Bend? The traffic there is absolutely horrible, especially the stretch leading up to Big Bend by the Shrewsbury I-44 exit. The light favors highway drivers, and only one lane is NOT ok. My daughter's school is right there, and it makes for a huge headache. The Murdoch turn lane was closed for so many weeks with NO construction going on. Now, however, it is re-opened, but going down to 1 lane for the short stretch after Murdoch before the highway exit is a HUGE problem. Sometimes you wait 20 minutes just to be able to turn right. Is there any way the lights can be adjusted? They favor highway drivers, and often times only a few cars get through, who are also trying to get down to one lane. This is magnified with the Shrewsbury entrance onto I-44 closed.” ST. LOUIS COUNTY'S REPLY: Traffic flow has without question been slowed by our ongoing improvements to Laclede Station Road between Murdoch and Newport. We’re sorry about that, but it’s unavoidable. Our contractor must close multiple lanes simultaneously for the safety of both workers and motorists. And adjusting the signals timing would only create new traffic flow issues in this same area. However, the company is working as quickly as possible to complete the repairs that have prompted the lane restrictions. Also, the northbound left lane closure north of Murdoch was reopened last week. David Wrone, St. Louis County
  • I recently drove a long stretch of Gravois Avenue in the city to check out the replacement signals. Most of the brand new signals are now using the red arrow for the left-turn lane. I noticed one signal used the red ball indicator for the left-turn lane.

    Is this an oversight? I ask for clarity because I think a uniform red ball or red arrow reinforces driver safety and familiarity.

    Thank you.
  • There were a few signals along Gravois that weren't replaced, and are getting updated this year.  That was probably one of them.  Andrew Gates, MODOT Communications
  • Can you explain why the commuter parking lot at Exit 269 on Highway 44 is being closed. It seems to have gotten a fair amount of use in the past.
  • It wasn't not well used, and was often used for extended overnight parking (which is not legal) and it was being used to dump debris.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • Is it possible for someone to check the pedestrian crossing signal on the southeast corner of Conway at Lindbergh? The signal button to ask for a pedestrian crossing to go west across Lindbergh does not work. There is no audible beep to indicate the button has been pressed and no response from the pedestrian signage to permit safe crossing. This has been the situation for several months now. Thank you.
  • I have passed this along to our signal team to check out.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • Thank you for the response, Mr. Gates. I am actually referring to the brand new signals, installed in the last three months, or so.
  • Of which signal are you speaking, then?  I can check on it.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • I will drive the route when I go to church over the weekend, note the signal and report back to you in the next Road Crew..
  • Thanks -- when I get the location, I can pass it along to our construction team.  If you want, you may also e-mail me at  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Are there any construction projects that will be put on hold and lanes temporarily re-opened this weekend for the Memorial Day holiday? Is MoDOT expecting any serious choke points on the interstates and can recommend travel times to avoid?
    We are limiting construction through the Memorial Day weekend, as we do typically.  However, if there are permanent lane drops (such as along I-44 between Grand and Shrewsbury, we will not be opening them up. At this time, we are expecting the repair work on the westbound Jefferson Barracks Bridge (I-255 across the Mississippi River) will pause about 4 p.m. Friday and work will start back up around 9 a.m. Tuesday.  Of course, we may have to close a lane if we have some emergency that pops up.  At this time, we don't anticipate any major choke points, but as always, please pay attention and put down your phones while driving, especially through work zones. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    I will email you direct. I also forgot to say good job. I'm especially pleased that Duke St and Spring Ave now have detection. These were two signals that could really be frustrating due to stopping because they were pre-timed signals.

    I wish that MoDOT would take over the signals on Chippewas St.
    Thanks -- I'll look forward to your e-mail.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • I'd like to thank whomever for fixing the signal at Manchester and the driveway near Spectrum across from Mitchell Ave. Unused green for the driveway was causing long backups on westbound Manchester in the afternoon up until last week and now it seems fixed!
  • Thanks for the kudos. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Last week, a reader expressed concern about a curve on Vaile, near Jost Manor, on which several vehicles have recently crashed. The reader asked about the possibility of installing a guardrail at the location to prevent future motorists from jumping the curb and striking the light poles located beyond the roadway. Unfortunately, there's not enough room for a guardrail; the presence of such a device would pose more of a hazard to the driving public than now exists, as an errant car would simply hit it and boomerang back into traffic. We will soon place reflective markers on the besieged light poles to increase drivers' awareness of the problematic curve. David Wrone, St. Louis County
    Is there something that can be done about the timing of lights at Hwy 40 and Hampton heading north. They are mistimed at least in the afternoon from 4:00 to 6:15 with constant congestion getting onto westbound 40. In the last few days it had been backed up four blocks almost to the Steak n Shake
    I've passed your observations along to our traffic expert for the I-64 at Hampton area to take a look at it;  Since the Hampton signals are maintained by the city, we'll work with them to see if we may be able to fine-tune the timing.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • It would be really convent for the metro area to have a consolodated street call center/app/problem reporting process that could go on to the different jursidictions. Its really hard to know who to report the issue to at times (city/county/state). Any thought/hope of being able to do such a thing?
  • As far as I know, there have been no discussion of something like that, although it would definitely be helpful. Who would fund it, and how it would work would be significant issues that would have to be worked out.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • Traffic in both directions along Olive at Warson backs up in the evenings. Eastbound backs up sufficiently to impede merging onto Olive from Lindbergh (SB) such that Lindbergh drivers cannot make it to Olive and Olive drivers cannot make it to Lindbergh. Can the cycle at Warson to allow E/W traffic be lengthened to mitigate this backup?
  • I'll pass it along to our traffic team, but if people are blocking intersections, that is an issue for law enforcement.  We are working with the county to look at some options along there.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • What progress on the bridge cracks issue on I-44 near Shrewsbury?
  • Crews are still working on making retrofits to the westbound bridge.  We are still on track to have all lanes near Shrewsbury  and the ramp to EB I-44 at Shrewsbury open to traffic by mid-July and the entire project completed by fall. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communication
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