Ask the Road Crew

If getting around gets you down, get help, advice and answers from the Road Crew - experts from MoDOT, St. Louis and St. Louis County, during the weekly chat on Wednesday, May 11, at 1 p.m.

  • As a follow-up to some comments or questions over the past few months:
    Signal timing is one of the biggest issues any transportation organization faces. Optimally, we would like to give every one using the roadway a green light just as they need it. Realistically, with the volumes and necessity to meet the needs for all roadway users (including transit, bikes and pedestrians), that cannot happen. The best any department can do is to balance the timing along a corridor – trying to ensure that all users get their fair piece of available green time. That means that the roadway with the most traffic should be the one that gets the most green time. Unfortunately, several arterials carry large amounts of traffic east and west, or north and south, and usually cross. The corridor is balanced (or optimized) to provide as much seamless progression along the corridor as possible for a vehicle traveling the posted speed limit.

    Ideally, a major traffic corridor has a certain ebb and flow to it, or “pattern.” The goal for engineers is to move traffic into the corridor from side streets with a minimal delay for the overall, safe flow of traffic along the corridor. When you add roads with high numbers of vehicles (such as an interstate or a major crossroad), that creates breaks in the corridor’s ebb and flow. It is often more efficient, when looking at the overall corridor movement, for traffic engineers to do what they can to incorporate those major roadways into the corridor’s existing flow. That may mean stopping traffic near that major roadway on either side to get them into the corridor’s “pattern.”

    The challenge is when you have two major roadways that intersect – especially if one is an interstate. You see the biggest concerns at the I-44 or I-64 ramps at roadways such as Jefferson, Kingshighway, Hampton or any other major city artery. The first priority is clearing the interstate ramp – you do not want the traffic backing all the way up onto the interstate and backing up traffic there – it’s just not safe. But, when you have an interchange with a major road, you want to minimize the backups on that major roadway as well. Traffic engineers have to find the balance on both roads -- and consider the overall traffic flow at not only the interchange, but the corridor. For instance, in the morning at I-44 and Jefferson, engineers have to balance the volume of traffic on both the eastbound ramp with the traffic heading north on Jefferson coming from Russell. Lafayette and Russell remain green to clear traffic out of the way for the ramp traffic. Once the eastbound I-44 ramp traffic enters Jefferson headed north, it passes the westbound ramp and some traffic gets stopped at the Lafayette signal to get into the “pattern” for the Jefferson corridor. If the signals are “synched” at the ramps, Lafayette and Russell, then traffic may flow worse further along the corridor.

    This is complicated by several items:
    • Many of the signals along corridors are older equipment
    • Several signals along the corridor don’t have pedestrian buttons (which means that engineers must give time every cycle to possible pedestrians (even if there is nobody there)
    • Signals are owned and operated by two different organizations with two different signal control systems.
    Our engineers work diligently with the city to keep the major corridors (such as Kingshighway, Hampton, Chouteau, Jefferson, Chippewa and Gravois) flowing consistently and smoothly. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • Regarding your comment on signal timing... What is irritating to many of us in South City is not the amount of time given in each direction but rather when a traffic pattern which had been working all of a sudden changes and creates gridlock.

    That is what happened on South Jefferson recently. We went from a traffic pattern that moved (although slowly at times) to one which created gridlock from North of I-64 to South of I-44 because the lights at Lafayette, I-44 and Russell would only allow a handful of cars through in one cycle.

    Thankfully, it appears that issue has been resolved.. at least for now.
  • Thank you for your patience and understanding.
  • Last week there was a post about River Desperes and Landsdowne. City Traffic has adjusted the detection at this intersection and is awaiting new equipment to install. We will continue to monitor this intersection.
  • If one is standing on the northwest corner of Wydown and Skinker, waiting to cross east into the park, the pedestrians get the walk light at exactly the same time the eastbound drivers turning left (north) onto Skinker get the turn light. Both pedestrians and drivers who aren't familiar with the corner think they have the right of way...someone is going to get hit there. A similar crossing situation is at corner of Wydown and Big Bend, but the lights are synchronised so no problem exists.
    I'd emailed your predecessor a few years ago who checked it out and agreed it was dangerous, but nothing has ever been done.
  • City Traffic staff will observe and adjust timing at this intersection.
  • I know I can call these in -- there are two deep holes with sharp edges in the west bound bike lane of Russell just west of Mississippi. Neat square edges, like a utility cut-out or repair. Can they be fixed soon?

    And is there a way you or I could encourage construction crews who leave hazardous features like this to at least spray it with bright paint or otherwise mark it for us until it's repaired? When I hit these at night it's particularly dangerous. Tks!

    And thanks for the fixes in the Tower Grove bike lanes in the past 2 weeks, nice!
  • We will inform out Street Dept. crews and repair.
  • At McCausland and Arsenal there were serious accidents both this last Saturday and Sunday and I know there have been other accidents from the debris piles I see sometimes. I think it's time to eliminate the dual left turn lane from McCausland to Arsenal left over from the Highway 40 rebuild and either separate the North and South Bound green lights entirely or put in a dedicated left turn signal for Southbound drivers. Southbound drivers are always trying to force a left turn to Arsenal on solid green when they can't really see Northbound traffic until the last minute because of the rise in McCausland just South of the intersection. Thanks....
  • City Traffic staff are in the process of re-designing the traffic signal patterns and lane configuration.
  • I have an inquiry regarding private businesses using a public street to load/unload work trucks. Specifically, on most mornings now, AMF on Sublette between I44 and Manchester. Routinely, they are parking multiple vehicles illegally headed south which disrupts traffic. Their employees dart in and out of traffic which isn't good either. On the northbound side, there are always many personal vehicles parked off of the roadway beyond the curb which I also understand is illegal. I'm happy that their business appears to be doing well but I don't believe it to be ethical to use a public facility in this manner. This is just another example of how this city must start aggressively disciplining the citizenry. Please direct AMF to play by the rules.
  • The City will contact our vehicle enforcement staff.
  • The St. Louis County Police Department enforces this section of Barrett Station Road, and its patrol officers are alert for the illegal u-turning motorists. However, I'll forward your observations to them. Thank you for your posts. (Your earlier comment prompted the study that led to the installation of the "No U-Turn" signs. David Wrone, St. Louis County
  • Steve Runde, can you tell us when the 20th Street-Chestnut exit will be fixed? The sides of the road are crumbling in places, and the orange cones have been there so long they're faded. It's dangerous. Thanks!
  • Thank you for your remarks. We expect our contractor to finish paving Brentwood, between Marshall Road north to Eager, within the month. David Wrone, St. Louis County
    "Just have to say how amazing it is to finally drive on a nearly paved Brentwood Boulevard. Thanks for all the work there!" Posted by Brentwood
  • Martha, MoDOT has responsibility for the 20th Street and Chestnut ramps from I-64. At this time, we have no funding planned for any work at 20th and Chestnut. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • The pots/traffic circles are currently being removed in ward 25 & replaced with stop signs until a more permanent, safe, & engineered solution can be implemented.
  • Has there been any movement on the "roundabout" situation in Dutchtown? Yield signs are totally ignored, large vehicles have to make illegal left turns, and when two cars get to the intersection at the same time and actually stop for each other it end up being a "you go, no you go" situation.
  • Marianne -- Typically a resurfacing job such as the one recently completed on Clarkson does not include the shoulders.  We make repairs to the driving lanes that are necessary due to the constant vehicle traffic.  Potholes are an annual occurance, especially in the spring, and would not be prevented by resurfacing work.  If we put a new surface on the shoulders (which isn't normally needed) we would still have to patch potholes.  Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • From Southsider:
    Good morning!Bringing up a previous topic/location: at the intersection of Des Peres Road & the offramp from WB Manchester/Corporate Hill Drive, the new stoplight arrangement... Nothing has been done to give more time to those of us trying to exit the Corporate Hill Campus (literally HUNDREDS of cars). There is still only time enough for four (maybe five, if the first car out is "on" the gas when the light goes green) to get out of the parking lot. The timing is horrible.Also, since last week, at the SAME intersection - the offramp from WB Manchester now has a dual-left onto Des Peres Road, but there are no "tiger tracks" in the intersection to keep cars in their own lanes.Finally: Why are traffic lights that control traffic from a State Highway onto a City Street allowed to be controlled by a commercial property developer???

    We will pass this on to the team working on the project. Typically, when you have a major permit job such as this that requires significant changes and equipment to a state roadway, we require the contractor/developer to maintain the roadway and the signals they are impacting. That way, we are not making changes that are interfering with their work and vice versa (and taxpayers aren’t on the hook if the contractor is not fixing potholes or the like) . In situations such as this, one of the requirements for the contractor is a traffic engineer who is able to make changes to signals. When the project is done, and we believe the roadway is back to an acceptable condition, we take maintenance responsibility back. We do something similar when we have major construction on one of our roadways (our contractor is responsible for the road’s condition while they are working on it.). Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • Curious about the I-44 work zone. Why close the left lane if you're working on the right lane? Wouldn't the opposite sort of eliminate the lane shift currently present? Thanks!
  • Sorry, meant to respond to this one earlier. Closing the right lane would reduce the safety of the drivers entering or exiting the interstate (it would require much shorter merges at the entrance and exit ramps. ) Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
  • Crosswalk questions from last week not posted:
    The north side of Wabash at Lansdowne desperately needs a crosswalk. I asked about one on the chats/CSB at least a year ago and obviously nothing has been done since. What's the current story?
    There's a crosswalk on Washington east of Grand that has one end at a driveway. Why is it like this? Doesn't seem safe.
  • The City Traffic staff will address these locations.
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