Ask the Road Crew

If the new year means the same old problems with getting around, ask the Road Crew for help. They can help resolve things like bad light timing, answer pothole problems and more. Join the weekly chat on Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 1 p.m. with our experts from MoDOT, St. Louis and St. Louis County.

    The newly-opened lanes of the elevated section of WB 44/SB 55 is anything but smooth. I would have expected a pristine driving surface given the time and disruption afforded to this project. As is stands, the left lanes are better to drive on than the resurfaced lanes. Why is it so rough? Is anything going to be done about this? If so, what will be the impact? If not, why not?
    The project on westbound I-44/southbound I-55 is to complete preventative maintenance on the bridge over 3rd Street. The project isn't complete, but we opened the roadway during the winter in an effort to help keep traffic moving while crews were unlikely to be working on the construction (due to cold, or wintry weather). A part of the job is removing and replacing expansion joints on the bridge (which helps the bridge expand and contract as the temperatures change). When they replace those joints, they have to pour concrete around the joint to hold it in - that is often not entirely level with the existing concrete. We will have additional work on that bridge starting about mid-March. When the project is done later this year, the driving surface should be much improved. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    I'd like to inquire about traffic detection, mainly for left turns in the city. I have noticed that many intersections have traffic pucks installed but they never seem to work. I.e., the light will cycle a left turn arrow when no traffic is present. This has been happening for years at all hours of the day all over the city. The life cycle for the batteries in the traffic pucks is about a decade which is about the same amount of time that they have been deployed around the city. I'd imagine some of these pucks will never be used before they run past their useful lives. I have seen this condition at so many intersections that it would take weeks to document all of the inadequacies and it is not my job as a taxpayer anyway. I've read that you are implementing even more traffic pucks but how about maintaining the ones already in service first?
    In addition to public complaints on suspected failing vehicle detection locations, we are evaluating the arterials to determine first what locations have detection installed and secondly if it is working properly. After that our actions are to fix what isn't working correctly or replace with new hardware as necessary. At the time they were initially installed they were operating correctly, but conditions change due to a multitude of conditions including but not limited to weather issues like lightning, freeze/thaw,vehicular crashes into light poles that serve as the mount for the wireless receiver to communicate with the detection in-street, or internal signal cabinet malfunctions with detection interface to the controllers.
    Just curious - Are all accident reports automatically sent to the respective street/traffic/transportation departments? Is the accumulated data systematically studied?
    SLMPD compile crash reports and report them to the state as well as provide copies to the Street Department. This information is referenced for a number of day-to-day decision-making efforts at the Street Department including things like stop sign requests and corridor safety projects.
    I've seen continued complaints regarding Hampton specifically between interstates 44 and 64. Hampton south leaving Forest Park has gotten worse. I have difficulty believing that you cannot sync the signals any better. This condition is highlighted in the middle of the night: MODOT's signal at 64 and Hampton works on detection while the other city-owned operate on timing only. The result is endless idling for no traffic at 2am and, due to the crime rate, one becomes a sitting duck at most locations in the city. Please coordinate to smooth out the flow on Hampton during the day and how about some flashing signals at night on Hampton?
    There is vehicle detection on Hampton in some locations and we are already evaluating our arterials to determine the health of such equipment in order to repair or replace as needed. We are working with MoDOT to provide and maintain signal the appropriate level of signal progression on Hampton between I-64 and I-44. In regards to flashing the signals, we are currently more comfortable continuing to operate them as normal versus flashing due to Hampton being a primary arterial with wide roadway approaches and significant traffic volumes throughout the day.
    At the intersection of Arsenal and Tamm, there are stop bars painted on Tamm, but after Arsenal was re-paved, the stop bars were never repainted. Hopefully these help people realize there IS a stop sign and lowers the number of people running the stop sign. I see so many almost-accidents at that intersection.
    We will check the condition out you described and see where the re-striping is in our queue of work to be performed. Thanks!
    Seems like of late (the past couple of years) that there have been multiple street closures confined to a particular area of downtown area near Broadway and Washington streets from various projects either sidewalk to electrical work creating just total gridlock. Do agencies work together to make sure too many streets aren't closed at one time to put traffic at a total snails pace? One week someone is working on broadway and then the next someone is tearing up a sidewalk on washington at broadway when the other work on broadway isn't even finished along with locust at broadway still being shut down. Seems like agencies aren't working together prevent too many projects from occurring before another one is finished.
    In recent years we have seen a great number of efforts underway downtown that require lane closures for construction purposes. In addition to the projects such as the new archgrounds , Kiener Plaza, Soldiers Memorial, and Washington Streetscape there are electric and gas utility upgrades occurring all over the downtown. Not to mention smaller scale projects that also require temporary lane closures. All of these efforts are necessary and sorely needed so the City works hard to coordinate the timing of lane closures with the contractors carefully as not to grid-lock the transportation network but also provide an opportunity to complete the work. That said, it is unavoidable to mitigate the impact of these closures completely or even nearly at times depending on locations and the work required at them. We have been and will continue to do our best to provide the appropriate amount of open lanes and proper signal timing to get folks around the downtown the best we can while allowing this critical work to occur.
    Southbound I-270 at Olive and I-64 is horrible, with vehicles trying to merge as soon as they get to the end of the ramp. Given the distances at each location, why can't pylons (or at least striping) be used to force vehicles further down the traffic lanes for an orderly, faster merge?
    Paint really won't keep people from merging over early, and pylons on interstates are unsafe and interfere with snow removal. You are right, though -- there is plenty of room for traffic to merge into (or out of) the flow of traffic along both southbound ramps. Drivers need to be polite and follow appropriate merging practices. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    The west bound traffic on 44 that exits at 141 going north does not stop to check north bound traffic on 141 - what can be done - I hit this area at about 7:30 at night - I know you are doing improvements here but what about in the mean time?
    There is a yield sign in the right hand lane and a right turn signal in the left hand lane of the ramp from westbound I-44 to northbound 141. Both of those should indicate that drivers need to stop and look. If drivers are not obeying the sign or signal, as appropriate, you should notify law enforcement.I have asked our construction team to double-check the signing there. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    Going south on Hampton just north of 44 the far right lane is for traffic going west on 44 and there are signs stating that but every night people race down that right lane and then want to cut in either before or right as the right lane ends - even buses - can anything be done to help here - maybe a flashing light reminding drivers that it is a right turn lane only??
    This is certainly a common occurrence for those traveling this area of Hampton. The problem seems to be more that people are jockeying around the queued traffic by cutting over at the last second to the southbound through lane rather than the fact they are surprised that the lane ends as a right turn only and are wanting to get out of it. We will look at any options besides the signage and striping that we currently have out there to alleviate this issue.
    That is NOT an answer to southbound I-270 merging better. Build a barrier (Like you did on 141 and I-64) or SOMETHING better. Every day I see the potential for dozens of accidents. Traffic slows down simply because of the merging issue. You built more lanes and that did not help at all.
    Building a barrier, as you suggest, even if we had the funds, would not change driver behavior. Drivers would follow the barrier to its end and then merge in (in less space then they currently have). It would just move the problem to the end of the barrier. Drivers should merge correctly -- they need to get to speed and merge over in the breaks in the traffic. However, drivers in the through lanes also need to watch for traffic on the ramps and let them merge in. Andrew Gates, MoDOT CoOmmunications
    The onramp from memorial drive to westbound I-44/southbound I-55 constantly bottle necks. I thought with the reopening of the construction lanes that this would of helped but it is so bad every night that i'm backed up from broadway to spruce to memorial drive for over 15 min to get on the highway. Is there anyway to correct this issue?
    There is a lot of activity in a short distance -- you have two ramps exiting the city grid, two more lanes exiting the bridge and a lot of people jockeying for position to get onto the interstates. We have signs up on westbound I-44 through the city to encourage people to get into the left lane for I-55 and the right lane for I-44. I have asked our traffic team to look at this and see if there are any other improvements or suggestions they have. If you are waiting 15 minutes on city streets, you might want to consider getting onto the interstate from Lafayette, or Tucker to Gravois. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
    I know potholes like to pop up this time of year but the Compton railroad bridge is out of control. The bumps continue if you take Market onto Forest Park as well.
    You're correct, but we're doing our best to fix them - thanks for the heads up on these locations!
    Hi – we work in the Westport Plaza complex and are concerned about the effect of recent development in the area on traffic flow (P-D article 12/18/16): the large complex at Grissom/Westline, as well as World Wide Technology, Aclara Technologies relocation, and Staybridge Suites, all on Westport Plaza Drive, and Watlow Electric’s expansion on Lackland/Craig. Access to Page/I-270 is already gridlocked at rush hour every evening, often backing up to Lackland, as well as the Page east/west gridlock in the morning. Has the roadway infrastructure been studied for all of this? Thanks!
    Typically, developers are mainly concerned about traffic on the roadways directly around their property. We do comment on proposals that we see have an impact on our road system -- and encourage municipalities to think beyond the narrow box around the development when working with developers moving into their communities. At this point, we have no further plans or funding to make any more improvements in that area of Page. We will, of course, continue to monitor the signal timing and make adjustments as needed to get as much traffic moving along Page as we can. Andrew Gates, MoDOT Communications
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