Ask the Road Crew

Ask the Road Crew

Traffic troubles? Road rage? Make your St. Louis commute as stress-free as possible by getting answers from the experts at MoDOT, St. Louis and St. Louis County during the weekly Road Crew chat on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, at 1 p.m.

    I know the new right lane for westbound I-64 between MO-141 and Chesterfield Pkwy is just about complete, but what work is being done in the median? The lanes have been narrowed eastbound in a few spots (though no new lane is being added there) and the left lane westbound has been closed. Are the narrow EB lanes permanent?
    We will be doing similar work on eastbound I-64 starting a little later this year. We will be adding another lane eastbound from Route 141 to I-270. We will have narrowed (11-foot) lanes on eastbound I-64 in those areas. Andrew Gates, MoDOT COmmunications
    On July 8, I noted that work was underway on a second left turn lane from NB Olive/Clarkson to WB I-64 and I asked if a second left turn lane would also be added from SB Olive/Clarkson to EB I-64. Andrew Gates said "There will be a second left turn lane from southbound Route 340 to EB I-64." The work on the new NB-to-WB lane has been completed for a couple of weeks but there's no new SB-to-EB lane. All of the construction equipment has been removed and it looks like grass seed has even been spread in the median. So was the earlier statement incorrect? Or has it just been delayed?
    That was a case of getting bad information. The information shared with me when I asked was that there would be a second turn left turn lane in that location. Later, our traffic engineer let me know that information was incorrect. I apologize for the misunderstanding, and the miscommunication. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Another question about SB Olive/Clarkson to EB I-64: about once a week I get stuck at the left-turn signal onto EB I-64 because the car in front doesn't pull up far enough to trip the embedded sensor. This has happened to me at all hours, but usually during the lunch rush or the evening rush. After we miss one or two cycles I try flashing my lights and/or honking my horn to get the person to move up to the line. Rather than moving up, the drivers instead almost always panic and try to make the left turn on red, dodging oncoming traffic. This left-on-red freak out happens I would say 9/10 times I'm in this situation.

    I am terrified every time that this happens that I'm going to cause some poor person to get in a serious accident. However, I don't know what else to do in this situation so that we don't sit there for 10 minutes. I would go down to the next intersection and turn around, but that puts me in the dangerous situation of trying to merge from a dead stop into the flowing traffic to my right. I understand that there's only so much you can do about bad drivers, but the fact that this happens so frequently leads me to believe that something must be done. For example, can the embedded sensor be extended further back?
    There are loops embedded in the roadway at that particular turn -- unfortunately, because of that, we cannot extend them further back. It can be frustrating to have people not activating the sensor because they are too far back. And, we don't want drivers crossing on-coming traffic on red. About all we can do is remind people that the stop bars are there for a reason -- and that they need to pull up to the stop bar if they are the first vehicle in line. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    I-70 through downtown -- When can we expect elevated lanes to be removed, graded to street level (from Locust to MRB) as Memorial Drive Blvd and joined w/ N. Broadway? As a local signalled route, drivers can make choice to cross river to remain on highway (will require ramp connections for 64E to 70W, and vice versa), or travel through downtown at signaled boulevard to reconnect to highway north or south of downtown.
    There are no plans to make any changes to the elevated lanes of I-44 through downtown. First, there are significant north-south truck and other vehicle movements that use this section of interstate and will continue to use it now that the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge is open (traffic from northbound I-55 to westbound I-70). MoDOT estimates that traffic at about 60,000 vehicles daily. There are only two north-south interstate corridors in St. Louis – I-55/I-44 to I-70 and I-270. This traffic would either use the proposed at-grade roadway or divert onto I-270, which already has significant capacity problems. The first would lessen many of the benefits created by the boulevard; the second would further exacerbate one of the region's most significant congestion problems. In addition, removing the interstate and replacing it with a boulevard would not solve the primary purpose and need for the CityArchRiver 2015 project—to ease both pedestrian and bike flow from downtown into the Arch grounds. A four to six lane boulevard would restrict pedestrian and bike access, not make it better. In addition, an at-grade boulevard does not link the Arch grounds with Luther Ely Square Park and the courthouse. That could change if, at a future time, regional leaders determine that removing the elevated lanes of I-44 is a regional priority and would be beneficial to the region.
    The I-64/MO-141 interchange is obviously still in flux, but the current temporary lane markings seem inadequate where the right-turn lane from EB I-64 onto SB 141 meets the newly-opened outer lane from the WB I-64 cloverleaf. The right turn lane has no yield line painted on the ground and the new outer SB lane has no lane markings and is only being outlined by cones. I've seen a few times over the last week where a car trying to make a right turn doesn't realize where the SB lane is and they pull out too far, directly into the path of the SB traffic. This is mostly due to the new configuration of that outer SB lane, and people will get used to it over time, but the lane markings definitely aren't helping. Do you think some additional measures could be put in place to help direct people? For example, temporary taped lane markings for the SB lane or a painted yield line for the right-turn lane?
    We are getting ready to mill out some of the outer road in that area and replace it with new asphalt -- that work is tentatively scheduled for this weekend. After that happens, we will be putting down some new temporary markers and should be restriping the area to better indicate where drivers should be traveling. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    There were no changes made to the signals on Compton at Spruce and Market. A signal engineer will check for a malfunction.
    There was a change made some time between the morning commute on 8:30 AM Monday and the same commute on Tuesday at the northbound lights at Spruce and Market where they meet Compton. This new change is horrible. When Northbound Compton at Spruce's light turns green, the one ahead at Market is red and stays red. Long after Spruce turns red, an extended green at Market begins but only 5-6 cars can make it through since everyone is stuck at Spruce. Traffic this morning was backed up nearly to Chouteau trying to make it through the Market light. My commute nearly doubled these past mornings. Please revert this change!
    Vandeventer was repaved from Papin to Lindell last week and restriped.
    The new Ikea store is almost open, but Vandeventer at that point is in terrible condition. The road surface is torn up and bumpy, while the lane markings are indecipherable and poorly laid out. Is anything being done about this?
    @andrew.gates I understand there will soon be permanently narrow eastbound lanes on I-64 east of 141, but I'm asking about the newly narrowed lanes well west of there, near Chesterfield Parkway and Timberlake Manor Parkway. They aren't continuous - just short sections of shifting to the right to make room in the median.
    They are working on the drainage in those areas. They should go back to the regular width when the project is complete. Andrew Gates, MoDOT
    The fiber is currently being reconnected between the new signals on Forest Park to resynchronize the signals.
    New traffic signals were installed along Forest Park Ave between Vandeventer and Taylor Ave. Since then they have not been synced up. Are there plans to get these working in unison again? Went from maybe getting caught at the intersection of Vandeventer and Forest Park to getting stopped at every light along this stretch. Thanks!
    Please check the signal timing on SB Jefferson at Lafayette and I-44. On Monday, around 4:30 in the afternoon, it took 10 cycles to get from Park to EB I-44. As I got closer to the Lafayette intersection, I noticed that when the left turn arrow from SB Jefferson to EB I-44 would illuminate, the light at Lafayette would turn red prohibiting traffic from actually utilizing the dedicated arrow.
    Unfortunately, once again, this week the signals on Jefferson Avenue - from Russell Blvd to Washington Avenue - have gotten completely unsynchronized causing massive backups. But this time, the problem is during both the morning rush hour 8-9am northbound, and the evening rush hour 5-6pm southbound. I think the biggest problems are still with the Scott avenue signals. The Scott signals are red way too long and are not synched with any other signal along the route, going either northbound or southbound. We are often just sitting at the green signals at I-64 and not moving, while watching the red signal at Scott for long periods of time with absolutely no traffic on Scott. It takes nearly 20 minutes to drive from Market street to Scott avenue during evening rush hour. That’s only a half-mile span. Also, the signals at I-44 are completely opposite of the signals immediately near them, causing extremely long backups during evening rush hour. Please re-synch the signals to the timing they were on last week, when traffic was a bit smoother. Thank you.
    Our signal group will get with MoDOT and check the signal timing on Jefferson.
    Can you tell me why the signals at Butler Hill and Lemay Ferry were recently altered? The changes disrupt the morning flow and back up the left turn lanes for Northbound Lemay Ferry. The majority of traffic on Lemay Ferry in the AM is travelling Northbound to access I55, yet the Southbound is given the priority.
    They were a part of a recently completed project to optimize the signal timing along Lemay Ferry and Lindbergh corridors. Our traffic engineers will take a look at the timing to make sure that the signal is giving the appropriate amount of time. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Good afternoon. My question/concern is regarding the lighted billboard on the side of the Airport Renaissance Hotel that faces the East bound lanes of I-70. Is it acceptable for the lighting to be so bright during night time that it blinds drivers as they approach it? The main concern is that the brightness at night is pretty intense that it blinds drivers, especially approaching that curve on the highway before I-170. Would it not best, for safety reasons, to lower the brightness during night time hours? Thank you.
    I've passed your complaint about the sign onto our outdoor advertising team to share with the Renaissance Hotel. Andrew Gates, MoDOT COmmunications
    What is going on with 44 east and westbound by Jamison? How long will the roadwork continue?
    Also, any updates on when 141 by 40/64 will be completed? Thanks!
    The work on I-44 by Jamieson is work to renovate the Laclede Station Road bridge over the interstate. That will continue for about three months. The work on Route 141 is scheduled to be completed later this year. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    The contractor installing the sewer for MSD on Southwest ran into some unknown utilities that needed to be relocated and now hard rock. Excessive rainfall in June and July also delayed the project. It is expected to be closed through January 2016.
    When is Southwest Ave at the intersection of McCausland Ave expected to re-open? It has been closed for months. Thanks
    Any plans to smooth the morning traffic between 270 and 170 on 70 East bound? The congestion has gotten terrible over the last few weeks
    We have no plans to make any changes around I-70 in that area. However, we usually find that we get a lot of sunshine slowdowns in that area around this time of year. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Huge shout out/thank you to the folks (I can't remember if it was StL County or MODOT - I tried a few different places) who fixed the light timing at Lindbergh and Litzsinger. Whatever had been going wrong was causing huge backups and adding about 20 minutes to my drive home. After flagging it for attention it was fixed quickly, and now I get to spend more time with my family. Thank you for what you do!
    You are very welcome! Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Yes, we maintain this section of Hanley Road. Currently, Missouri American Water is completing upgrades to a water main it maintains beneath Hanley between Maryland and Forest Park Parkway. Once this work is complete, St. Louis County will repave Hanley from just north of I-64/40 north to Pershing. We expect to begin that task early next month, and finish before year's end. (If the weather cooperates, the repaving will be completed in fairly short order.) David Wrone, St. Louis County
    I think Hanley Road through Clayton is the County's responsibility and I noticed they just re-striped the lanes. Hopefully that does not mean they are going to leave that road in the present terrible condition for the winter.
    Potholes on I-64 as they descend into the double decked section (the first time before Grand), middle lane, and as they climb out of the double deck after grand, middle and fast lanes.
    We'll pass those on to our maintenance team. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    I enjoy the rapaved section of the south end of 170, but noticed a substantial bump halfway up the exit lane from northbound 170 to Forest Park Parkway. It is quite jarring! Why is this there? I don't see why a repaved road should have a near speedbump so soon after paving.

    I also want to commend the mention of sunshine slowdowns! These happen a lot on 40 this time of year as people crest a hill, especially at Spoede and at 170. I am glad you know this occurs!
    I have passed that on to our construction team and our engineer will take a look at the area you describe to see what the issue may be. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Why is traffic so much worse lately during the evening rush hour getting through downtown coming from I-70 Eastbound through to I-44. It's so horribly I've had to find a new route home the last couple of weeks.
    We recently opened the new ramp from Walnut/Spruce onto I-44 and we have had some jockeying into position as people get used to the new configuration. We are working through the process to improve the signing through the depressed lanes in downtown to try to reduce that. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    We were talking about merge signs on the interstates a few weeks back and you said it was policy to put them up when a merge is very short or the merge point is hard to see, etc. Then why does Hampton, on eb I-64, have a merge sign? The merge is very long and very visible, as opposed to Papin, which is far shorter and on a hill/curve. The policy makes sense, except when a merge versus an add lane is concerned, but the policy does not seem to be applied in all cases.
    That sign was installed as a part of the I-64 Design-Build project. We have to evaluate every situation for conditions, taking the policy as a starting point. We have to take into account special conditions which may be in place that are not necessarily visible -- for instance, a pattern of crashes correctable by special signing. We let judgment overrule the blanket application of policy, where needed. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Why are you again removing the concrete from the removed rumble strips on the ramp to Missouri research park in St Charles county. Why does it seem it take two time to finish any job on Missouri roads
    We filled in the rumble stripes as we shifted traffic around during the construction of the bridge. As we start moving traffic back into their original position, we have to put those rumble stripes back in. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
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