Ask the Road Crew

Ask the Road Crew

So a stretch of Forest Park Parkway is getting ready to close. Ask the Road Crew all your questions about whether that will affect your commute, or ask them your other commuting questions in the weekly chat on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 1 p.m.

    Two weeks ago, Reasonrules offered a suggestion on striping -- I shared that I would pass the suggestion on to our research team. This is the information I received back from them -- I have not edited it in an effort to make sure that I don't misstate or misinterpret their response:

    "It is ironic, things we do not want to last or be seen (like spilled paint on the road or scars from removed pavement markings) are the things that we see for a long time. The predominate reason removal scars are so visible is the difference in texture as you pointed out. With grinding being the predominate form of pavement removal this normally results in a scar or groove that is slightly below the surface of the pavement, which reflects light differently that the surface around it (or casting different shadows based on the groove). Unfortunately, the attributes that make a scar itself more visible will actually decrease the performance of pavement markings placed on/in it.

    • The paint must be applied thick enough to retain the glass beads that make the pavement marking visible at night in any weather
    • Rough pavement also has a serious negative impact to the retroreflectivity of the glass beads (night time visibility). We have documented this in the field and the visibility of the line can be decreased as much as 50% for no other reason that the pavement surface having increased texture.
    • Placing a line in a groove has been proven to also negatively impact wet night time line performance as it submerges the glass beads that make the line visible at night.

    One of the biggest issues with wet night time visibility of our pavement markings is in fact ambient light and road way lighting that is prevalent in urban areas like St. Louis. When the roadway is wet and there is ambient or roadway lighting present (even light from the headlights of an oncoming car) that light reflects and refracts off the surface of the water and overpowers any light that is being returned to the vehicle by the glass beads in the pavement markings. One of your (St Louis) striping crew commented to me last year that he was coming into work one day early when it was dark and raining and there was a power outage along I-255. Without all the lighting in the area he said the roadway markings were so much more visible it surprised him.

    Wet night time visibility is one of the holy grails of pavement markings and industry invests a lot to try and crack it, while improvements have been made they are limited, costly and are not very durable so they are short lived.

    The glass beads in the paint are essentially small curved mirrors, the light enters the bead and is bent down, reflects of the back of the bead where it is in contact with the paint and returns the light back along the same path carrying the color of the paint with it. So if light cannot get into the bead, due to water covering it for example, the bead cannot return the light. Ironically, there was a case were a district tried to cover a white edge line with black paint. In a short time the black paint was polished off of the glass and while you could not see the line during the day it was as clear as a normal line at night, this is due to the fact what you see at night is not the painted line, but the colored light coming from the glass beads. So anything that effects the performance of the glass bead will affect the visibility of the line."
    When is something going to be done to the Compton Ave bridge between Chouteau and Interstate 64? Last year it was closed down for two weeks for repairs and it's worse now. The surface is in very bad shape. So are the sidewalks.
    The City is applying in early 2017 for a federal grant to improve the Compton bridge. Beyond improving the long term structural stability of it, this project will also upgrade the sidewalk and roadway surface.
    The trolley tracks are finished, but the City portion of Delmar is still a mess. Lanes appear and disappear without warning, and nobody knows where they're supposed to be. When will this be fixed?
    The contractor is responsible for maintaining temporary striping until the final resurfacing is complete in the spring. We will notify the contractor to check conditions on the stretch of Delmar you observed.
    Please email me at, and provide the name of the street that exits onto Reavis Barracks. Our Operations Division will investigate. David Wrone, St. Louis County
    I live on a subdivision road that is maintained by the county. I quite often need to make a left turn onto Reavis Barracks Rd. A homeowner on the corner has planted tall ornamental grass and it blocks the drivers view to the left. Any suggestions on how to get the homeowner to cut the plant down or relocate it? Thanks.
    On the topic of yard waste: leaf pick-up. The City of St. Louis policy of directing citizens to put their leaves in the street for pick-up is dirty and primitive. I suspect this is one of the reasons why MSD's rates have essentially doubled in the past couple of years. When my car is damaged by yard waste in the street, as put there under the city's direction, who is responsible? Is it the person who put the yard waste in the street or is it the city who directs the citizenry to do so? Please let me know.
    In the case of personal property damage to your vehicle you would need to file a claim with your insurance company along with a police report. The insurance company would then pursue action as needed.
    I live in the City of St. Louis and my neighborhood has roll carts. Due to the unseasonably warm temperatues up until recently, my yard, probably like everyone else's, has been slow to produce yard waste. Have you considered extending the yard waste pick-up for roll carts due to the weather this year? As I state every year around this time, my yard generates waste throughout the year and it would be swell if you could still pick-up yard waste over the winter. (You pick-up yard waste dumpsters in the winter...) If not, I'm just going to throw my yard waste in the regular trash--I have nowhere for it to go. Your decision.
    You are correct and we have already discussed options for extending pick up as you noted. We will notify everyone with more details as they become available.
    Also related, the timing at RDP and Lansdowne is not very good for NB traffic during the AM rush hour. Cars are backed up to Weil because there's not enough time given to the NB movements. Can you increase their time, perhaps take some away from WB traffic because they seem to get more green time than demand warrants? Thanks!
    We will look at the conditions you describe in the AM rush & respond accordingly.
    Can the city install a sign similar to what MoDOT has at the Grand off-ramp to Grand that reads (and depicts) "Turning traffic yield to pedestrians?" at the right turns from Wabash onto Lansdowne and RDP onto Lansdowne? These are busy ped crossings for the Greenway and Metrolink and cars don't like to look for people crossing. With more darkness these days, it's not any safer for people like me who cross here nearly every day. I appreciate it!
    We will look into the signing at this intersection as well as at the plans for the newest GRG RDP greenway extension to see what can be accomplished in this location.
    I'll check with our site plan review group to see what restrictions we put in place for this project. If the builder doesn't have permission to keep that lane closed 24/7, we'll address the issue with him. David Wrone, St. Louis County
    There is a new subdivision being built along the north side of Big Bend just west of 141. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week there is a 'Right Lane Closed Ahead' sign going westbound on Big Bend. Does St. Louis County have the authority to have this sign removed when there is no work being done? It's confusing to have it up all the time.
    I have some signal concerns. Some of us have posted often for about 2 yearsabout the lack of timing on 18th from Delmar to Chouteau going south at almost anytime. The same is true of 20th in the afternoon. Getting a red light at every intersection is frustrating. Thanks.
    We will have our folks review the signal timing on 20th & 18th streets as well as coordinate that effort with MoDOT as some of their signal bisect the City's.
    As River City Blvd crosses under I-55 and turns into Carondelet, there's an overhead green sign for the I-55 SB on ramp that indicates the left lane is a turn only. However, the markings on the road say the lane is a dual movement lane, left and straight. I think this is a MoDOT issue; can you resolve the conflict between the sign and the lane marking?
    We will take a look at this and see what we can do with it. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    I've read about the Forest Parkway closing 12/5 for the reconstruction of the intersection with Kingshighway. What will the detour be going westbound in the evening to get back on the Forest Park Parkway? I can see this as a huge mess until it's completed.

    And is there a date that the Kingshighway bridge at Shaw is going to open in December?
    The detour for WB Forest Park Parkway is Vandeventer/I-64/Skinker. Note that intersection of Kingshighway & FPP will remain open throughout construction except for the existing underpass itself. The Kingshighway bridge project near Shaw will not reopen to traffic until April 2017 due to unforeseen delays.
    When is the 7th St ramp downtown to I-55/I-44 expected to open?
    We expect to reopen all lanes and both ramps for the winter next weekend (December 9). We will have additional work southbound and northbound next year. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    A light pole was hit during an accident several months ago at 317 N Taylor 63108. About a month later the pole was replaced. It still does not have a light (just wires sticking out of the top) What are the plans to fix this?
    That is a decorative light that is not a stock item for the City's responsibility. We maintain it in terms of repairs but the purchase of materials due to damage is done through a non-City entity that originally paid for the special installation. I will check but it appears the pole may have been put back up but the light fixture is on order still.
    When will the Grand Avenue Bridge be totally completed and I-44 have all four lanes westbound open near there?
    Grand is currently fully open to traffic; however, we have some additional work to do next year (landscaping and the like); We are expecting to have all the I-44 lanes open after we complete some pavement repairs and remove the remaining barrier (which may be as late as the weekend of December 9). Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    I'll have our traffic engineering group investigate. However, at this point, I'm not sure what the extent of our involvement would be, as the City of Des Peres maintains Des Peres Road, while we maintain Dougherty Ferry. David Wrone, St. Louis County
    I see more accidents than I'd expect at the northwest corner of the intersection of Des Peres Road and Dougherty Ferry Road, and I've had a fair number of near misses myself when I've got the right-of-way. The problem seems to be that many drivers pull out too far to make a right turn on red before completely assessing traffic, and get hit as a result. It seems to me that we need better signage there. Is this a possibility? Thank you!
    When I go west and return to STL I pick up 50 at KC to Sedalia, over to I70 and in to STL. Hardly any truck traffic on 50 and it is dual highway. I70 is a nightmare going to STL.What I I can't understand is why turning 50 into an Interstate isn't even considered seriously by MODOT. It is four lanes from KC to Sedalia, that part is already done (needs improvement though) there are other sections near STL which are four lanes (I44) and it would open up new commerce for that section of our state. It would be nice to have an interstate going to and from our Capital city!
    It is very difficult process to get a road changed to interstate status. We do see the value of U.S. Route 50 as an alternate to I-70 and as funding permits, we will continue to make improvements to update and improve U.S. Route 50. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Update on Kingshighway northbound between Christy and Chippewa, please? Runde's last post on October 26 said it would be rectified within 30 days. Nothing has been repaired.
    I apologize that we were not able to get to the repairs along Kingshighway as originally planned. Our crews have not been idle, rather they have been addressing a number of other locations as well as their other projects. I assure you we will get to it and again I am sorry for the inconvenience this has been to you and others.
    Thanks for the feedback on the striping issue - you never know until you ask! Today, I have some questions regarding the Kingshighway viaduct: 1) Is there a firm completion date yet? 2) After the reopening (and some time allotment for traffic to adjust), will there be a shortening of cycles for Hampton - especially at "peaks"? It's pretty annoying to just miss a signal on an intersecting street and know that you'll be sitting for 2.5-3 minutes before getting a turn....
    The Kingshighway viaduct project has run into unforeseen delays and will not be reopened to traffic until April 2017. The Hampton signal cycle lengths have not been changed due to that project however. We routinely monitor our arterial timings so that they remain relevant to the traffic volumes and patterns that they service.
    Thanks for smoothing out Midland at Lindbergh. Can someone take a look at the entrance ramp from Midland to Lindbergh southbound? The left side is beat up.
    I have passed on your concern on the ramp from Midland to Lindbergh to our maintenance team to see what they might be able to do. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    I have two statements about the intersection of Boyle and Clayton. I take southbound Boyle often to access westbound Hwy 40. This is usually as I get off work around 9:30 on Sunday nights.

    First, the sign on southbound Boyle that shows that the Hwy 40 on ramp is approaching is right at a curve and a fork in the road (where the right turn lane to westbound Clayton). With the arrow on the sign pointing forward and with the combination of curve/fork, it appears like one should get in the lane to turn onto Clayton road to access Hwy 40. Even knowing this, I still want to get in the turn lane because the signage is confusing.
    Might I recommend either pointing the arrow slightly to the left or moving the sign back or forward several dozen yards to avoid confusion?

    Secondly, I’d like to add our most common complaint--the cycling of the lights at that intersection. I often sit there with nary a car in sight in either direction waiting for the light to change. There appears to be a traffic monitoring device but it is not changing the signal. This is very frustrating at 9:30 to just sit there for no apparent reason. Can you please make sure the traffic monitor/light changing devices are working properly?
    We can speak with MoDOT on the sign placement for the highway messaging. We will check the video detection at the intersection of Clayton & Boyle to make sure it is operating correctly in terms of vehicle actuations.
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