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Poll: How Should St. Louis County Reduce Traffic Congestion Between Mid & South County?

St. Louis County is still trying to make it easier to get from Hanley to Watson Rd., now through what’s being called the South County Connector. Various schemes have been around for decades:

A plan for an improved connection from south St. Louis County to central St. Louis County has existed since the late 1950s. The original concept was for a freeway “inner belt expressway” to provide better north-south access through the St. Louis suburbs. This freeway concept became Interstate 170 north of Interstate 64/U.S. Route 40. Originally, Interstate 170 was supposed to continue south into the southern part of St. Louis County to provide improved access between Interstates 44, 64 and 55. After much deliberation, area leaders decided in the 1990s not to pursue a southward extension of Interstate 170 due to public concerns. Although this option was abandoned, St. Louis County, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), and other local agencies continued planning efforts to identify potential options for north-south access improvements in south St. Louis County. (source)

Here’s a summary of the current proposal:

John Hicks, the county’s Transportation Development Analyst, says the county is now presenting two alternatives to the public, but both roughly follow a route from River Des Peres Boulevard at Watson Road, through a portion of the Shrewsbury MetroLink parking lot, across I-44, into Big Bend Industrial Court, crossing Deer Creek Center and ending at Hanley Road near Flora Avenue. (KMOV)

A good portion would be elevated roadway.

South Hanley ducks under railroad tracks.
South Hanley would be widened where it ducks under railroad tracks near Deer Creek Center.

Proponents say the project is needed to address projected increases in traffic, critics say the focus should be on transit, biking, and walking solutions.  They also say the widened/high-speed intersections would be dangerous to bikers and pedestrians.

I want to know what you think about it, the weekly poll is in the right sidebar. Cast your vote and share your thoughts below.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "21 comments" on this Article:

  1. carl says:

    I don’t believe we should build more infrastructure incentives for people to live in the county or to support commuters. And I say this as someone who has had to drive all over the county for work (social work).

  2. JZ71 says:

    The real problem that I have with the current proposal is that the County wants to solve a county problem by building a new road in the CITY! The secondary problem is in improving the current road / building an interchange at I-44 for a road that (currently) prohibits commercial vehicles / trucks since it’s in a city park. If the County wants to connect MacKenzie with Hanley by going through Shrewsbury, fine. But if the good citizens of Shrewsbury (rightfully?) are saying NIMBY, why should the good citizens of south City be expected to bear the brunt of any solution?! Our house is off of Jamieson, I drive RDP Drive several days a week and have no problem getting around, including getting to both MacKenzie / Watson and Hanley / Big Bend – the best answer is probably to just do nothing.

  3. Lee says:

    I have lived for 45 years in the area following the routes
    that you describe.

    Traveling East on I- 44 to exit into Shrewsbury is highly
    congested and a primary catalyst that causes much of the slow moving traffic
    and congestion. Traveling West I-44 into Shrewsbury/Webster Groves is equally challenging.

    Very seldom do you see people walking or riding a bicycle
    along Laclede Station Road are anywhere else on this route.

    Travelling from Clayton on Hanley Road going south is highly
    congested and slow moving.

    Each road is saturated with traffic signals, curves and most often only
    two lanes for traffic. Straightening the road and adding lanes in both
    directions would help.

    Enacting an ordinance that has all trucks with more than
    6 wheels in the right most lane would significantly streamline traffic, as
    would, having a fourth lane restricted to automobiles that are transporting more
    than two people.

    • Flavin says:

      Just because you see people “very seldom” does not mean they are not there. I bike along Laclede Station twice a day, going to and from the Sunnen MetroLink station. I regularly see other cyclists and pedestrians in the area, as discouraged as they may be by the current state of the accomidations. The traffic is fast and cars are packed in close; there often isn’t enough room for the drivers to change lanes to get around me (which is more for their comfort than mine), but many don’t even slow down to the posted speed limit as they go by me. The sidewalks are narrow and close to the traffic flow, often with no shoulder, which does not make the area inviting to pedestrians.

      Access to the Sunnen Station is bad enough as it is now. It was already harmed by cutting off the northern section of Laclede Station (where it and Hanley merge) to make room for the Mini dealership. Adding additional lanes and traffic in the area will render the station completely inaccessible.

  4. moe says:

    And I could swear this was the reason for the MetroLink extension into Shrewsbury….like sidewalk intersection improvements. There are plenty of ways to get from North to South, South to North. Drivers just need to tolerate traffic, and some lights. These people wouldn’t last a day in cities like New York or Los Angeles.

  5. John Moody says:

    Planners are always projecting ever increased traffic loads. We’ve
    repeatedly found that more convenient thoroughfares increase traffic by
    encouraging more driving. For once, let the current tangle of congested
    roads serve as a deterrent to further driving, rather than building more
    roads to become congested again.

    It might help to modify the
    current zoning ordinances to allow scattered commercial establishments
    inside the neighborhoods, reducing the necessity to travel five miles
    for a pizza, for example.

    This is all Modern Planning 101. Then again, we are talking St. Louis County…

    • Very well put, John. When will our city leaders realize that more high capacity street infrastructure is not the answer to solving the city’s traffic and economic concerns? My grandmother still refuses to shop at the Target Greatland that sits at the southern end of I-170 because she was such a supporter of the extension of the of the highway to the south. What kind of community action was taken to end the construction there, rather than letting it continue?

  6. Scott Jones says:

    Build more roads and you’ll just induce more traffic.

  7. GMichaud says:

    It is patently absurd there is not a comprehensive approach to this project. Ok, no hurry we just hit numerical highs for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. What is most troubling is the complete ignorance and refusal to rethink how we are doing things as a culture. More roads are not the answer to any problem.

    Is it correct this is a casino related project? That the main purpose is to make access to the Lemay Casino easier?

    Whatever the cause it is business as usual in the leadership circles, that is the circles that direct all of the money to a few pockets. this project has nothing to do with the true needs of the citizens.
    It is more of the second rate management we have grown to expect. We need fewer expressways and more walkable neighborhoods with access to transit. Why is that not on the option list that John Hicks is presenting? Oh right, public hearings can only be on carefully vetted options that support the government/corporate positions.
    Reality is a bitch.

    • Turd Sandwich says:

      No, casino interests have never been mentioned in any news releases, but don’t let that stop you rail against governmental ignorance.

      • GMichaud says:

        Turd, I guess that’s your real name, I asked if anyone knew of the casino being a benefactor of this project. I would be really surprised that some benefactor is not in tow, nor would I expect MSM to report on it. From what I can see from the reports true alternates like transit or building a different kind of city that doesn’t require auto only access is not on the agenda..

        Yikes, a new idea, I don’t want to hold you back Turd, what’s your idea, more roads? John Hicks is nothing more than a paid hack to repeat useless solutions that are preferred by his government and corporate sponsors.
        The choice is always one grand road solution or the other grand road solution. Which is best, you pick, you suckers in the public.

        My guess is a proper analysis would show a major beneficiary, say like the Lemay Casino, not that it matters to you Turd.

        Nor should we discuss global warming, excessive oil usage and the ultimate destiny of humanity if we keep doing the same crap, which as a civilization we continue to do. Stick your head in the sand and maybe everything will be okay when you come out.

  8. guest says:

    Of the many topics raised here at Urban Review, this one is something that people can actually do something about. Talk to your neighbors and elected representatives. Let them know what you think of the plan. And testify before the County Highway Department. This is a big deal. And JZ said it best – the County has the gall to move its South County Connector onto a city street – after County residents said no to sending it through their neighborhoods. Someone’s got to call “B.S!” on this whole situation, and that someone should be an elected leader in the City of St. Louis. But they won’t say a thing if they don’t hear from you.

    • dempster holland says:

      The county’s recent proposal does noit take anyone’s house, nor does it send additional traffic
      down a residential street. Saying that the county is sending its traffic along a residential street ignores
      the point that many city residents living near river des peres will use it to get to clayton and adjacent

      • guest says:

        What are you talking about? The County’s proposal diverts highway traffic onto River Des Peres boulevard, away from the town of Shrewsbury. Whether or not city residents will use the new road has nothing to do with the fact that the new road will increase commute traffic in front of the homes of city residents.

        • dempster holland says:

          my point was it is not a city/county issue. People in each jurisdiction drive down
          streets in the other jurusdiction. We are one urbanized area. river des peres is a
          majjor arterial street and connecting it to hanley will reduce traffic congestion over

          • JZ71 says:

            I’ve been involved with the process since the county started it. Their primary goals are to create a new, complete interchange on I-44 to replace the existing Shrewsbury and Laclede Station partial interchanges and to provide a direct connection between two intersections, Hanley & Big Bend and MacKenzie & Watson. I don’t have a real problem with either goal, my only problem is with the arrogance of the county saying / assuming that the objections / interests of county residents (should?) supersede those of city residents. River Des Peres Boulevard between Lansdowne and Chippewa / Watson is a designated non-commercial street in an established city park. It makes about as much sense to turn RDP Boulevard into a major arterial as it does to four-lane Baptist Church Road, further out in the county,

            I live in southwest city, near Jamieson and I-44. If I want to go to Clayton, I go up McCausland/Skinker to Clayton Road, then use Hanley. This project won’t “help” me one bit. When I go to River City Casino, I do use RDP, and it works fine in its current configuration. And if I want to access I-44, the current ramps work fine, as well. The primary beneficiaries of this project are identified in its title, the South COUNTY Connector. Yes, we all use everyone else’s roads. But your argument that it “is not a city/county issue” doesn’t hold water. This is all about taking the path of least resistance, the cheapest route.

            The “best” solution, the one that would both move traffic the best, and the one that would impact the fewest residents and no park land, would require (horrors!) condemning and demolishing a portion of the MacKenzie Pointe Shopping Center (and we can never do that) to extend 4-lane MacKenzie to I-44 and beyond! The current “preferred alternative” is simply trying to do things on the cheap, not fully solving the goals and caving to NIMBY pressures from Shrewsbury! If the tables were turned, and the city were trying to improve traffic in the city by building a 4-lane boulevard through Kenrick Seminary, I SERIOUSLY doubt that you’s accept it as a “fair” solution to a “regional” issue!

          • GMichaud says:

            While I accept your arguments, the real question is what exactly is the regional issue? That would require conversations about transit, city planning, walk ability and many other issues the mainstream power structure prefers not to discuss.
            That is the crux of the problem.

          • dempster holland says:

            TThere already is a road through Shrewsbury and Webster Groves. Its called I-44. Also

            Hanley road through Webster Goves was widened at some point in the past.

          • I did submit my comments to the official notice and I hope all these posters will as well. (JHicks@stlouisco.com or http://www.southcountyconnector.com). Personally I live just south of the project area, a few houses west of River des Peres just into unincorporated County. (My back fence is actually the city-county limits.)

            I think the point about RdP Blvd currently being posted ‘no trucks’ is a good one. It needs to stay that way. I also hope this project does not cut off bike/ped access via the greenway to the Shrewsbury MetroLink. That is the one really viable bike/ped route in this area. I even suggested they include a 10-foot path (as shown in one of the preferred alts) alongside the bridge over I-44, although I doubt that will happen.

            I actually think the routing makes sense to replace the awkward I-44 access ramps at Shrewsbury and Laclede Station/Murdoch. I am surprised Deer Creek center has been remodeled anyway, but it has tons of excess parking space. I am also thinking that a parking garage could easily take care of the MetroLink parking issue, and then maybe there’d even be land left for a TOD project. I think only 8 houses would be taken for this project, which is pretty amazing for a project like this. I also hope this doesn’t hose any prospects for extending MetroLink further south.

            I would eventually like to see Mackenzie Road extended in addition to this project, but that’ll probably never happen. It would make a lot of sense for Shrewsbury Avenue to connect to Mackenzie Road, by building a three-lane road with sidewalks along the rear of the remaining seminary property and with a grade crossing at the railroad tracks. Then you could close the grade crossing at Weil.

            I do expect that when the Wellington bridge is finished, some of the volume will be reduced anyway. Even though I live 50 feet into the county, that’s my preferred route as well. And I really hope we don’t lose our traffic control at Loughborough — in my comments, I suggested a detector-activated signal should be included even though it’s south of the project scope, I think we’ll see even more traffic on RdP as a result of this project. We also desperately need drainage improvements on RdP Blvd, and remodeling of the comfort stations so they can be usable again for bike path users like me! (And more trash cans would be great too.)

          • RDP to Weil is not direct, I have to consider battery use.


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