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Individuals Fighting to Keep MoDot from Closing Portion of I-64

On the eve of shutting down a portion of I-64, still known locally as Highway 40, one traffic engineer is upset by MoDOT’s plan. It appears that he and others have built us an expensive roadway system that is critically tied to a single highway. Close it and our region will cease to function, he claims! Wow, brilliant planning to be so reliant on a single corridor.

From Joe Passanise’s stophighway40closure.com website:

Imagine ALL the lanes of Highway 40 are completely closed in both directions – for TWO years. You are one of about 160,000 motorists who normally travel Highway 40, but now have to find alternate roads. You are stuck in traffic every day this week going to and from work using alternate roads that are packed with traffic. You inch along with other motorists hoping to move faster – but you realize it is gridlock traffic again. You are getting frustrated and impatient waiting through the endless number of traffic signal cycles. Eventually you get home – drained, tired and angry at whoever is responsible for creating this traffic mess.

You realize that your travel time has increased about three times your normal travel time. This has increased your cost about three times more for gasoline. This means you are spending less time with your family and tripling your cost of traveling to and from work.

Well, Mr. Passanise, you actually need to have a grid to have gridlock! Back in the days before we abandoned how cities were built for centuries, we had a grid. It was a nice grid that took people in all directions. One street backed up, no problem, just go over a block or two and go through that way. Typically blocks would be 300-600ft long. Some streets were more prominent than others but this allowed local traffic to use a lessor street while through traffic used a more major street.

Along comes the traffic engineer and his buddies the urban planner and visionary architect and they dream up a better way, doing away with the grid in new areas. The new streets, with the promise of easy motoring, would go from the local cul-de-sac to the collector road to the arterial and finally to the highway. The only through streets would be the arterials and highways. The old grid was messed up as well, with new highways terminating the existing grid, rendering it only partially effective.

The irony is, of course, that if our suburban areas did have a grid the closing of the interstate wouldn’t be such a big deal. Motorists displaced from the interstate would have numerous alternative East-West routes. Instead, with only a few East-West streets like Manchester Rd, Clayton Rd and Olive, those seeking to traverse the mid-county area of the region are going to be royally screwed very soon. For reasons stated above, it is not going to be gridlock. More like artery blockage.

Suburban advocates have long cited the public choice theory for the rise of suburbia (and the fall of inner cities), that people voted with their feet and moved to where they wanted to live. Well, true enough. But now these same folks, their kids and grandkids, aren’t so pleased with their choice. With public infrastructure spread out over increasing amounts of land per person, they come to the public trough expecting everyone to subsidize their lifestyle choice, one totally dependent upon the car on limited-access highways. We’re not asked to buy the car, just everything else. Oh yeah, and fight off anyone that attempts to limit our supply of cheap oil so that we don’t have gas prices commensurate with the rest of the industrialized world.

Where does Mr. Passanise live? In suburbia, of course. Let’s take a look, shall we:

Mr. & Mrs. Passanise live in Creve Coeur, in a condo purchased in 2005 (lower right, near golf course). As we can see, the Passanise’s have a number of businesses, including a number of car dealerships, not far from their home. While sidewalks exist in some places, they are certainly not complete and you can’t walk door to door as you would in a traditional neighborhood of years past or newer versions such as New Town at St. Charles. Along Olive are several places to buy groceries; Provisions, Trader Joes and a Dierbergs (or is that a Schnucks?). However, I certainly wouldn’t want to walk to these from Passanise’s condo. I can see how someone living in this environment is saddled to car. This brings us back to the public choice theory, they voluntarily moved to an auto-centric part of the region (of course, that is hard not to do).

Interestingly, the City of Creve Coeur is not pleased with their suburban environs that lack a true downtown. The grid-less and congested streets, the increasingly larger parking lots, the dangerous sidewalks, and so on created by traffic engineers and others doesn’t really work. Today, a new set of planners are carving out a true downtown for Creve Ceour, just north of Old Ballas Rd. How are they doing this? They plan to construct a street grid of short blocks!

But let’s move on to Passanise’s main claim, the additional costs to motorists during the shutdown;

Ignoring the collateral cost of depression and stress to the personal lives of each of the 80,000 motorists, the collective cost for additional fuel and time for Highway 40 users for two years is estimated to be $592,400,000 [fuel]+ $6,979,200 [time] = $599,379,200 or approximately $600 million. Please note that this is more than the $552 million construction cost budgeted by MODOT.

How does his calculations compare to say keeping a lane or two open in each direction during the project? We don’t really know because he is only comparing from a base of doing nothing, not the suggested alternate of keeping traffic moving through the construction zone. Not only would keeping a lane or two open increase the direct costs by MoDOT but is not like motorists would be able to get through in the same amount of time they are today. Instead of two years of construction this might take three or more years to complete. People who are dependent upon the highway are going to have delays and unless they’ve got a Toyota Prius that shuts off when stopped, they will waste gas idling. If he is going to claim the delays will cost another $600 million we need to see the estimates for keeping a portion of the highway open. From a worker safety standpoint, keeping a portion of the highway open will increase the risk of injuries or death for those doing the work.

Granted, Mr. Passanise is right, people’s lives will be significantly impacted by the closure. We’ve become used to being able to get pretty much anywhere in the region, either side of the river, in under a half hour. That will soon change, one of the realities of sprawling to the degree that we have. We’ve had it easy up until now, time to pay the piper.

MoDOT is saying they need to shut down the interstate to stay on schedule and on budget. Given the flack over Metro on the extension of our light rail, it is hard to blame them for keeping the budget and time table in mind. But earlier tonight, at Passanise’s meeting, the speakers were all upset with MoDot for putting their budget as the top priority. Yeah, what are they thinking, not wasting our tax money?

Passanise, being the good traffic engineer, wants to keep cars moving 24/7. Based on his estimates, Mr. Passanise seems to think everyone will continue to drive their own personal single occupancy cars for the next two years. However, car pools will form, transit ridership will increase and yes jobs will shift around the region. It will be rough going at first but people will find ways to adapt.

However, it is true that not everyone can adapt. For example, those living in subdivisions just off say Clayton Road, near the epicenter at I-170, will have little choice but to use Clayton Road if they plan to ever leave their homes. Sidewalks and crossings are already poor in many of these areas and increased traffic will make it worse. Bicyclists, I’m told, are already getting told by police to get off the road and onto the sidewalk.

The irony here, of course, is that if more people walked or biked the problem wouldn’t be as bad. Still, we very much have a one person, one car mentality. There is a reason your sedan has four doors and extra seat belts! If we actually had a street grid in many parts of the county, residents could access nearby stores without adding to the congestion on main arterials.

Tonight’s meeting was poorly attended, maybe 15-20 non-news people. The speakers were an interesting group, besides engineer Passanise we had Missouri State Rep from Frontenac, T. Scott Muschany (R-87) and former school board member and a former candidate for every office, Bill Haas. Muschany has filed a bill to make it illegal to shut down a highway for more than 60 days at a time. Haas intends to file a lawsuit to attempt to block the shutdown.

Me? I say shut it down. Not just for a couple of years, but permanently. Make a nice boulevard out of it with 4-6 total through lanes and slip roads on each side with on-street parking in front of urban buildings lining the corridor. This through section in the middle would have limited intersections but many more streets would be able to cross the roadway, so that you would not end up with homes on one side of the highway able to see stores across the way but have it be a long drive around to get there.

Yeah, I know, it ain’t gunna happen, just had to put it out there again. I also registered shutdown40.com which links back to my Highway 40 category here at UrbanReviewSTL.com. A gimmick? You bet, I can register domains with the best of them.

We are going to get a big ugly rebuilt highway that will be great until it fills up with traffic in short order. More cars & truck, more infrastructure, more pollution, more maintenance, more sprawl, more dependency, and more foreign oil. Frankly, I’m glad MoDOT is shutting down the highway. Maybe folks will get the message that living in a physical environment that forces people to drive everywhere isn’t very bright.


Currently there are "35 comments" on this Article:

  1. 40 says:

    Excellent – thanks Mr. Patterson. Hope you enjoyed Flamingo Bowl the other night by the way. Oh, and a few select people will realize that living where they have to drive sucks, but they’ll forget as soon as the highway reopens.

    The other thing that I think nearly everyone misses is that a) most people in the region will be unaffected (though people who use the highway insist that anyone who’s anyone uses it), b) many more will only be affected for one year (example: if you live in Chesterfield but work in Clayton you will only be affected for 2008 and if you live in Soulard but work in Richmond Heights you’ll only be affected for 2009).

  2. ex-stl says:

    if you’re not doing a major haul, there are always shortcuts to be found. I did the North County to U city thing on a regular basis before I-170 was built and on the way discovered St. Vincent’s, all those great cemetaries and Wellston. It really only took a coupla minutes more. In LA (of all places) the common wisdom is to stay off the East-West freeways and take surface.

    Maybe it’ll mean a revival for the businesses along older corridors like Manchester and St. Charles Rock.

    Lately I’ve been musing that the death of so many downtowns is the rise of beltways like 270. but that said, would Clayton, and the CWE survived w/o I-40? prob. but in a different way.

  3. Jim Zavist says:

    One, get in, get it done, move on. People have and will adapt. This isn’t like some places out west, or even between St. Louis and St. Charles counties, where losing one bridge can add dozens or hunderds of miles to one’s commute. Here, we’re talking about marginal increases in distance and likely longer periods of high congestion. You may have to go in at 6:45 instead of 7:15, or leave at 5:45 instead of 5:15, to miss the worst of the congestion.
    Two, the thing I don’t get is that when it’s done, there won’t be an increase in the number of lanes east of I-170. New, safer, higher bridges and longer merge lanes, yes, but no increase in lane capacity. Given the investment, I’d have expected more capacity, so, in a way, you’re kinda getting what you want as an end product . . .

  4. Nik says:


    You are one of the few who I have seen hit this on the head:

    “We are going to get a big ugly rebuilt highway that will be great until it fills up with traffic in short order. More cars & truck, more infrastructure, more pollution, more maintenance, more sprawl, more dependency, and more foreign oil.”

    Has no one been around St. Louis long enough to remember the 270 construction? Back in the late 80s, early 90s, 270 went under similar reconstruction – although it wasn’t completely closed. Additional lanes in both directions from 255 to 40/64 plus new interchanges at 44 and 40/64. It was supposed to solve all of our commute problems, right?

    Wrong! In 15 short years after that construction, there is more sprawl (IL, Jeffco, Eureka/Franklin County, St. Charles), more cars, and the traffic is way worse. In 15 years! And remember, the new 40/64 is not adding that many new lanes.

    So as taxpayers, we are funding a one-half billion dollar construction project to renovate the concrete. Really nothing more. MODOT really has become a Department of Construction (or Department of Motor Vehicles) rather than a transportation agency. Do they not have any planners or transportation engineers that keep track of stats like those for 270 to see that this is such a huge outlay of money for such a short-term fix?

  5. Jim Zavist says:

    It’s partly politics (you gotta spread the construction money around, and suburbanites, an obviously growing constituency, do vote) and it’s partly a chicken-or-egg conundrum. Does building more capacity encourage growth, or does growth justify adding more capacity? There’s also the unfortunate reality that you eventually either need to maintain or abandon whatever you’ve built. This project mixes increased capacity west of 170 with primarily replacement of obsolete structures east of 170. MoDOT is making the argument that little added capacity is needed on the east end of the project, so they obviously have planners and done some analysis. Whether they’re “right”, only time will tell.

  6. Curtis says:

    Why not shut down 44, 170, 70 and 55 while we’re at it. I’ve been on just 44 1 time in the last month and have never touched the others. And that trip was out to a co-workers house near Gravois Bluffs in Fenton. Would have been easy and just a few minutes more to hop on Gravois to get out there.

    Being a graduate of UM-Rolla (soon to be MS&T), it was said the civil engineering majors who couldn’t get jobs with big contruction firms ended up working for MODOT. The sad thing is, it was mostly true. The state pays so little in comparrison to private firms, they just can’t compete for the real best and brightest, so they end up with the left overs and barely graduates in most cases. I’m sure there are a few bright apples in there who just want to do that kind of work, but they were few and far between when I was in school.

    [SLP — Traffic engineers are what they are — all about traffic.  They are not about building strong communities, making things work for various modes.  They are about traffic, the faster the cars move the better the project.  BTW, I suggested we remove all the interstates within the I-270 loop back in April 06 — I’ve added the link above and here.]  

  7. dude says:

    with no new extra capacity, sounds similar to Boston’s original central artery which was obsolete the day it opened. This is about being more accommodating to 18 wheelers.

  8. bomle says:

    Two things bother me about the 40 shutdown “protest” movement. The first is that it comes FAR too late. I was living out of town, and still kept up with the news about the planning for the construction, as well as the public meetings people could’ve attended to voice their concerns about shutting down the highway. Maybe a protest should’ve been organized BEFORE the decision was made. Participate in your government, people, don’t just b**ch after-the-fact.

    The second thing is the unwillingness to embrace the closure of the highway as a chance to make community-changing decisions. For far too long, St. Louis has been car-centered. It’s time to make the county (and city) public transit-centered. In all the effort to “educate” people about the closure, I see far too little about public transit.

  9. CityMouse says:

    Excellent commentary. However, I don’t mind the highway, per se. I do mind the subsidy us city mice have to provide to provide suburbanites their public choice. I believe that the true capital cost of suburban expansion is paid for by ignoring maintenance of existing systems (MSD, for example).

    So, in order to support the costs of suburban living, why don’t we make all highways within the city limits a toll road?

  10. Bridgett says:

    This city girl hasn’t been on 40 in months, and only on 44 or 55 when I’m leaving town (or occasionally I will hop on 44 to get to Shrewsbury, I will admit). And therefore, I have about as much sympathy for a hand wringing self-indulgent Creve Coeur resident as he probably has for me, with kids in the city, worrying about school choices.

  11. john says:

    So true, agree, and 40 should be turned into a grand boulevard. This great opportunity to do it right will be lost in the “design-build” plan for the New 64. The real question is: What happens to a region when Main Street becomes a highway?
    – –
    The central corridor of StL region contains the most valuable resources of the region. Stretching from the Grand Center/SLU on the east, CWE/BJC/Forest Park/Museums/Zoo in the center, Clayton/WashU/Galleria/businesses (etc.) on the west, these assets as well as numerous others have kept the region alive even though depopulation was occurring. Yes even the inner suburbs have had to deal with depopulation too (the population of Richmond Heights has declined over 33% in the last 20 years). These valuable life supporting assets should be enhanced and supported by transportation expenditures, not devalued. The people who live nearby will be impacted severely for two years and forever as personal mobility will be reduced and the quality of life lowered.
    – –
    This project is being rushed for a number of reasons, some wise but most are not. MoDOT has failed for over 40 years to maintains and enhance the infrastructure between Kingshighway and Lindbergh Blvd. Now the agency (and regional leadership) wants to take Main Street and turn this central artery into an asphalt hell instead of using it to preserve and enhance the region’s greatest assets.
    – –
    The senior engineer for transportation alternatives at MoDOT was fired in September after having her educational meetings cancelled for one year. The New 64 is being built without one mile of bike paths, a pedestrian bridge is permanently removed and other pedestrian bridges, torn down years ago, are not being rebuilt. MoDOT has not replaced or even begun to search for a new Bike-Pedestrian Commission leader. The Chairman of MoDOT speaks: http://mobikefed.org/2007/12/modot-hints-at-new-direction-for.php As such the New 64 fails to provide anything close to well planned-integrated transportation system….”we cannot afford it” is the convenient excuse. Truth?: Hurry up and get it done before the new senior planner can integrate the necessary technical decisions, and inform the public of the true costs, the ones we are not telling them about!
    – –
    Passanise’s plans/analysis are extremely narrow minded and fail to properly calculate the opportunity costs in the New 64. Written from the perspective of a motorists, not a citizen, the projected costs are overstated for motorists but understated entirely for the region’s citizenry.
    – –
    But even worse, the New 64 is being built in a manner that fails to improve the lifestyles and livability of this important central corridor. But Salci, who lived in Caseyville, used highways, not Metro to get to work. Highway 40 began by taking Forest Park property and turning green space into asphalt. What’s new, this is St. Lou. Any wonder why depopulation continues?

  12. I’m glad I live in the City and take transit to work. I hope the highway messes with the lifestyles of West Countians. They did after all chose to live out that far, but work at a distance which requires the use of the highway or a route which is affected by the highway. They rationally made that choice! Now let them deal with that rational decision. Perhaps this will be a catalyst that causes them to reassess the idyllic highway centric lifestyle they chose?

  13. Erin says:

    You know, there are a lot of people who already live in the city whose jobs relocated out to West County, so the idea that only those “highway centric suburbanites” are the only ones to be affected smacks of elitism.

    [SLP — the urbanite is more likely to accept the shutdown and deal.  Also, the city person heading west in the AM and east in the PM will be going against the bulk of the traffic.  We also see jobs moving to the city as many companies have a good number of employees from Illinois.]

  14. independent says:

    It won’t make much difference whether headed east or west when passing through the Lindbergh/Spoede/Ballas/Brentwood/270 crossings of the region.

    [SLP — Well, that’s what we get for listening to traffic engineers and their promises of efficient travel in our metal boxes.]

  15. LisaS says:

    I agree that there’s definitely a missed opportunity here–not only to remake the interstate as a true parkway, making better connection to the density of uses that lies along its path (it is the most dense corridor to be certain …. ) but to make it work for the future by adding capacity for more sustainable transportation options, even something as token as an additional lane in each direction for HOV …

  16. john says:

    Lesley Hoffarth, the manager on the 40 project, said in 1999 “We don’t want to make this a big panic.” Nine years later, it has become a “big panic”.
    – –
    Most negatively impacted are the residents who live, walk, cycle, and drive around the 40-170 area, like Brentwood, Maplewood, Richmond Heights, and Clayton. The residents “way-out-west” will feel two years of discomfort but will not have their neighborhoods wrecked. In Richmond Heights alone, 66 homes have been torned down to expand the highway east of 170. But everyone who travels in the city-inner suburbs will be delayed and inconvenienced due to poor planning-design for many more than just two years.
    – –
    Back in 1999, MoDOT/Metro officials offered different plans then what the the New 64 and the Extension has become. Gov Holden requested that the 64 project be placed on the ballot for a vote from the public, it never happened. An environmental lawyer, Lewis Green, recognized that the highway was old, but the region needs to take a closer look at how it spends scarce transportation dollars, and said. “The future of major cities has got to be with mass transit… The more we build ourselves into this highway way of life, the more we fall behind the rest of the world.” Too true.

  17. Kara says:

    I am anticipating that the shutdown of 40 will do great things for the city. Many have already moved closer to the city because of the problems they know they would encounter by staying in the burbs. City residents will also learn to live more locally and support independent city businesses rather than driving out to Creve Coeur to hit the chains in the strip malls. Many people will learn how to use public transit, will realize that they don’t need to be afraid of it (or the stranger they are sitting next to) and will learn how it can be a pleasure to relax during a commute rather than stress over traffic.

  18. mark says:

    Something that has been overlooked: Truckers. The “backbone of America,” has less options. Forget about the everyday commuter, these poor guys/gals will really have the tough time of trying to get through St. Louis City/County. When I-64 does close for 5 miles, you will see flatbed after flatbed waiting in line to get on to 270; not to mention transit couriers, local and statewide, contributing to the mess. Delivery’s would be slowed greatly, which could cause major problems. All I can say is… “We’ll see what happens…”

    Gladly, I won’t have to deal with I-64; but I am sure that it will affect my commute in some way… sort of the way when a river floods, all the streams and creeks rise as well…

  19. john w. says:

    I’ll take some personal satisfaction in thinking all of the Fox News Channel watchers jammed up and cursing the world wasting their $3/gallon gasoline. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!! A ha ha ha ha ah ha!!!! Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

  20. Dennis says:

    If you want my opinion, and most likely someone already hit on these same things I will say, but I don’t have time to read thruough everyone else’s comments right now, so I will just say: THE WHOLE THING IS GOING TO BE A TOTAL WASTE OF EVERYONES TIME AND TAX MONEY!!! When it’s all finished we will NOT have gained a thing. It will still be a big bottle neck in the 64/170 area because they aren’t even going to add any lanes from that point east. AND I don’t know if anyone ever noticed, but up to now there are no big trucks on 64/40. And that is because of the short overpasses of course. Well, duh!!! Once they get the new higher overpasses (bridges) built that will leave it wide open for big monster trucks. You all think it’s bad now? Just imagine it with all those trucks too!
    As for how bad will traffic be once it closes. My prediction is the only really noticeable place will be the junction of 64/40 and 270. It’s at that point where most of the 64/40 people will be splitting off there different ways to get to their alternatives like Manchester, Olive, 44, Page, whatever. I imagine there will be a lot of people running all over the place in all directions, like they don’t know where they’re going because they really DON’T know where they are going. I moved here (St. Louis city) over 25 years ago and it still amazes me how stupid people are about knowing their way around their own town. They never know what direction they are going. Why is that? To tell them “follow such and such a road until ssuch n such and then turn north or turn east? HA! Forget it!

  21. kb0tnv says:

    My only wish for this new year besides healthy twin babies that will be riding a
    bike eventually…

    Hoping that in 2008 maybe just maybe St. Louis will ‘wake up” to the
    transportation hell
    we have in St. Louis once I64 / 40 is shutdown and realize there are (better)
    to the four
    wheeled gas / space guzzler! (Bikes Rule / Cars Drool)

  22. Tim E says:

    Shutting down 40 from my viewpoint as a construction manager is a smart, efficient and very cost effective way to deal with a major rebuild including a major change (40 & I-170 interchange). Which it is in a nutshell, replacing bridges and infrastructure past their life cycle.

    I think the real loss to the county in terms of transit is the flip flop mentality in supporting a dedicated sales tax on the February ballot. Metro board lets Salci pursue a lawsuit to the end, loses big time and now the politicians are afraid to touch transit. Hoping for Hwy 40 chaos to change minds instead. Heck, everybody will just find a different street or Highway to drive on for two year or drive over a different bridge.

    Tim E

  23. Chris says:


    Your comment “back in the days before we abandoned how cities were built for centuries, we had a grid” is not exactly accurate. The street grid phenomenon primarily emerged in the “newer” cities of the United States (e.g. Chicago, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Miami, Oklahoma City) — even New Amsterdam (now Manhattan) started with a non-gridded street pattern in its lower section. In my many travels to Europe, none of the major cities that I’ve visited are on a true street grid. In fact many, such as London, still have streets that meander down ancient cow paths.

    This aside, I agree that St. Louis has become inordinately obsessed with the 40/64 reconstruction. I always laugh when leaving Grand Center when I see hordes of cars jamming southbound Grand Avenue heading toward the one path that surbanites apparently know to get to their homes in the county. Taking alternate surface routes such as Washington or Olive, I am home in my normal time. Perhaps other St. Louis drivers should think outside of the box.

    One last thought while I’m on the topic of St. Louis transportation. Using surface streets as an alternative to interstates would be a more viable option if the city would also let go of its obsession for stop signs. Our city has one of, if not the highest number of stop signs per square mile in the country. I often think of this obsession as an allusion to our civic attitude toward progress — throw in as many road blocks as possible. Regardless, these unecessary stops are wasting an *enormous* amount of fuel, while causing motorists to speed up, rather than slow down as intended.

    [SLP — Yes and no.  True enough, many cities follow the old cow path but the grid was around long before Oklahoma City was founded.  From the wiki entry on the grid plan: “New Haven, one of the first colonies in America, was designed with a tiny 9-square grid at its founding in 1638. On a grander scale, Philadelphia was designed on a rectilinear street grid in 1682.”  New York’s gird entered the picture in 1811.  Even those without grids, such as Boston or Europe, still utilize small blocks.  Wiki also indicates “New European towns were planned using grids beginning in the 12th century, most prodigiously in the bastides of southern France that were built during the 13th and 14th centuries. Medieval European new towns using grid plans were widespread, ranging from Wales to the Florentine region. Many were built on ancient grids originally established as Roman colonial outposts.”]

  24. Jim Zavist says:

    Side issue – now that an additional lane has been added to both 70 and 44 “temporarily”, anyone want to bet that removing them in a couple of years will spur another round of debate? My guess is that once a lane is added, it will be nigh on impossible to make it go away in the future – just look at our many multi-lane surface streets radiating out of downtown, the streetcars are gone and the number of commuters are down, yet we continue to provide 6 lanes in too many places . . .

  25. kb0tnv says:

    It is all a big crap shoot. No one person knows what will really happen. I already see people I have never seen before using the buses and Metrolink. I assume they are ramping up for I64 / 40. I do hope Metro can help w. reducing congestion and get on the Nov. ballot for ’08.

  26. Jim Zavist says:

    Chris, the city’s “love of stop signs” is directly tied to the ability of an alderman to have one installed pretty much anywhere he/she or a constituent thinks that it might make things “safer” (instead of relying on the city’s professional traffic engineers to determine where they’re needed, or not, using established “warrants”). Secondarily, some replace traffic signals that were removed when there was no money in the budget to maintain them, and they may still be warranted, or not. And then there’s that law of unintended consequences – our surfeit of stop signs actually results in less safety as too many motorists roll through without stopping and accelerate recklessly to make up for “lost time”. Having been in cities where the engineers have more control over the overall end results, I’ve found that trafic does flow much more smoothly and probably more safely. The unanswered question is the impact on the finer points of urban life, things like being a pedestrian, a cyclist and/or a sidewalk diner . . .

  27. Jason says:

    The plan is to go back to 4 lanes on I-44 after the I-64 work is done. I can’t wait for them to get rid of the extra lanes on I-44(unless the next snow storm does). I have a bad feeling there will be some bad crashes caused by broken down cars that no longer have a shoulder to pull off on. Crashes on the interstate will cause backups since there are no shoulders. I think the extra lanes do more harm than good and the new ten foot lanes make those cross-country semis even closer to my door.

  28. Chris says:

    I am a current and former resident of West County (Chesterfield), having been gone from the area for the last ten years until last year. I will be “inconvenienced” by the shutdown, but I see the hassle I will face as penance for living so far outside the urban core of St. Louis.

    If I wanted to get downtown faster, I could move to somewhere closer in and not rely on interstates.

    My family, who will also be inconvenienced, sees the complete closure as the smartest (and safest) way to get this done. I will never forget the rebuilding of Highway 40 from I-270 to Spoede Rd over a decade ago. It was a complete nightmare and unbelievably dangerous; imagine swerving back and forth from new lanes to temporary lanes back to old lanes. It was not fun. I will not miss the intersection of 40 and Lindbergh, even if I have to go way out of my way.

    I have to admit that I’m sorry that the vast majority of the St. Louis region has to listen to the small percentage of people who will be affected directly whine and complain so much about this.

  29. Ryan says:

    I disagree with the theory of City dwellers going against the bulk of traffic. Illinois drivers pollute our roads in groves heading west every morning. They city is not attracting businesses, and more people will decide to avoid downtown. If their suburban environment can sustain them with amenities (besides professional sports), I think they will choose to stay in their poorly designed urban environments.

    Metrolink = Metrojoke

  30. Steel says:

    Let them stay in their poorly designed areas. I firmly believe suburbs will fall long before the city. By their very nature sprawl and poor suburban development are not sustainable. In my opinion, MOST suburbs are parasites- thriving, while taking from the reason for their existence. Yet without the City the suburb will not survive.

    And what’s with the cheap jab at Metro with no explanation? I am not sure where it falls into the rest of your comment.

  31. ryan says:

    As much as I want to agree with you, it is the overwhelming mindset of suburban residents. I hope more businesses open in the city, and give the residents options.

    And after 17 years, 2 lines, and 1 billion dollars, no shot at metro comes cheap. I think I can get a few shots in after they spend 27 million in a losing effort.


  32. thoughts from south grand says:

    It is entertaining for me to observe the behavior of an individual who is a member of the portion of the metro area’s population who moved to the burbs along with all of the businesses and left the city to implode, who lives in St. Louis county where the residents complain about even paying their property tax that support the infrastructure needed to maintain the state of their sprawl, and who now is in essence a victim of his own design.

    Can’t fix stupid Mr. Passanise, and that is exactly what sprawl is.

    Rebuilding this stretch of I-64 without a train down the middle is “mission to Mars in a Chevrolet El Camino that is low on gas” kind of stupid.

    Anywho, good luck with your effort to stop the shutdown, but it seems like a lost cause, like a campaign to stop college kids from drinking.

    I-64 from I-270 to the Mississippi River has not been on my map for the last 15 years since I moved into the city.

  33. thoughts from south grand says:

    here are some jobs moving downtown


  34. john says:

    Happy 4th for on this day the authority that runs the E-470 toll road near Denver is ditching its coin handlers and going entirely cashless. “Happy Motoring” to mean higher costs.

    From the WSJ: The Denver switchover follows a similar move on Wednesday by the North Texas Tollway Authority, which turned the 32-mile President George Bush Turnpike outside Dallas into an entirely cashless facility.

    In an era where gas-tax revenue isn’t generating enough to pay for the nation’s transportation-infrastructure needs, the transition to electronic-only tolling hints at a cashless future where American cars come with devices that charge them fees for every mile they drive.

    More immediately, cashless tolling is lauded as a way to prevent the dangerous and inefficient jockeying that goes on at toll plazas as motorists hunt for quarters and switch lanes. In an all-electronic system, traffic flows without stopping under gantries where cameras detect transponders and scan license plates.

    Invariably, motorists who don’t have the proper transponder will pay higher toll rates than electronically savvy drivers. Vehicles equipped with the right transponder will pay $3.15 to travel the length of the Bush turnpike outside Dallas. But drivers without the transponder will get a bill in the mail for $5. Unpaid bills incur an additional $2.50 charge after 30 days and overdue transactions get slapped with a $25 charge after 45 days, according to the agency.

    “When tolls become less visible, it’s easier to raise the tolls,”

  35. Jimmy Z says:

    And john, FYI, the legislation that put E-470 in place also severely limits the ability of the state or the county to widen any existing, “free”, parallel highways, under the theory that congestion on those roads will drive more people to the tollway! Combine that with one of the highest-per-mile tolls in the country, and the allure of privatized highways starts to lose a lot of its original attraction: E-470 + Northwest Parkway = 56 miles, toll is $14.00 with transponder and $15.25 without!

    The original concept of toll roads, from the 1930’s through the 1960’s, actually worked well in some instances. The roads were built, the tolls were reasonable, and when the construction costs were paid off, and the tolls were removed. Examples include the Denver-Boulder Turnpike (US 36) in Colorado, the Kentucky Turnpike (I-65) and several other Kentucky toll roads. The problem really comes when politicians start to see toll roads as something more than a financing mechanism, and more of a permanent cash cow. E-470 has been sold to a Spanish company, and it got the state some immediate cash, but leaves it with a worsening long-term transportation equation. The New York Thruway, the Florida Turnpike, the Kansas Turnpike and the Tri-State Tollway around Chicago are all examples of highways whose original construction costs were paid off years ago, yet tolls remain, providing high-quality maintentenance and long-term jobs.

    Taking the concept a step further, many states are trying out how to impose tolls on previously-free highways, including I-70, here in Missouri. It’ll be really interesting to see how this all plays out. Much like health care, many times it’s easier to embrace the general concept than it is to ceal with the reality on a personal level . . .


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