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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What's on your mind?

If you had the opportunity to ask the Missouri Department of Transportation in St. Louis a question, what would it be?

23 comments:

Ryan said...

When will we have a bridge across the Meramec into Fenton from the Valley Park side that's safe for pedestrians, bicycles, low-speed scooters, and the like?

I ride an electric scooter to work. It has a maximum speed of 24 MPH. Right now I take the bridge on 141 every morning. It's not a good option, but it's the only option; highway 30 speeds are too fast, and that and Gravois Rd are just too far around. (I live near Big Bend and 270.)

And while we're at it, why was the 141 bridge constructed to have nothing but narrow traffic lanes?

MODOT CR STL said...

Ryan, thank you for your questions.

MoDOT currently have no plans to construct a bridge across the Meramec expressly for pedestrians and cyclists. You may remember that cyclists often used the shoulders of Route 141 before MoDOT increased the lanes on Route 141.

The interchange of Route 141 and I-44 on MoDOT's wish list for critical regional transportation needs, but we currently don't have the money available to complete it. When MoDOT previously worked on Route 141, we had limited funds to do as much work as we could to improve the flow of traffic at that interchange. To keep the lane width the same, we would have had to widen the bridge -- which would have cost more and meant that MoDOT could not have done the extensive widening of Route 141 that was accomplished.

Bob said...

It seems to me that the "T" in MODOT does not stand for transportation. Maybe it should read MODOC&T. The C&T being cars and trucks. MODOT seems to be giving absolutely no, none, zip consideration for transportation methods other than cars. Is Pete Rahn so close minded that he can't see anything that isn't 2 tons and snorting exhaust. MetroLink is jam packed at rush hours. Poepls have caught on to the quality and benefit of mass public transportation. If you ask me, the money going to MODOT should be diverted to a new Public TRANSPORTATION department and not the old "cars and trucks department. Just because we'er Missouri, do we have to have a dark ages DOT.
It only infuriates me more that you guys are blowing 1/2 a billion dollars (at least, though I'm sure you'll find an excuse to make it more) on such a small chunk of highway. That's my tax dollars you're using and you sure didn't seem to ask the public if they wanted I-64 rebuilt. We could have made a huge mass transit dent with that kind of cash but, you guys have such backward/limited thinking scope that I wonder if you thought about what you were doing at all.

j said...

With gas prices skyrocketing, I have noticed a lot more bicyclists on the road, commuting to their jobs, to the bus stop or Metrolink stops, or just out doing errands. Alternate forms of transportation (outside of the car), such as bicycling or walking, have been given plenty of media attention, both locally and nationally. Yet, I haven't heard one word from MODOT which supports activities like walking and bicycling. MODOT's web page for "Other Transportation" (of which Bicycle/Pedestrian issues are discussed) doesn't appear to have been updated for quite a while.

I also understand that the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, a committee which was formed at the bequest of the Missouri Highway Commission, hasn't met since November of 2006.

I know I'm looking forward to what ideas the new MODOT Bike/Ped coordinator may have regarding direction of the progam, but nary a peep since the position was filled in the first part of the year.

What gives?

Civicminded-echoboomer said...

Glad to see MoDOT St. Louis in cyberspace and learning how to adapt to the Echo Boom (sons and daughters of the Baby Boom generation) tech savy world.

My question is less critical and more encouraging on the sometimes controversial topic of public transit. Although St. Louis currently boasts one of the top three most used light rail systems in the nation, the government entities and legislatures have not taken the cue to support non-auto modes. Even more Republican Denver, Dallas, and Houston have decided to push for much more expansive systems in area of lower densities than St. Louis.

My question therefore is as follows:
When will the state of Missouri and its various entities such as MoDot which carryout the will of the politicians (and also exert influence as the professional advisors) decide to significantly contribute its fair share of funding mass transportation in the St. Louis Metro(where mass transportation IS possible)?

Keep in mind that funding alternative modes to the auto helps alleviate pollution (CMAQ federal funding), achieve the EPA's standards, stave off future congestion, and enhance mobility and accessibility.

Examples of mass transportation in the suburbs includes more express buses or bus-rapid-transit along highways, and extensions of Metrolink in each cardinal direction towards I-270.

Ryan said...

So there's no money for a new bridge. Another idea or two, then...

A) What about repainting the lanes narrower, similar to what was done on I-44? Shaving a foot or two off each lane on that bridge could leave enough room to have a shoulder again.

B) How about lowering the speed limit on the bridge? Certainly there's precedent for having fairly low speed limits on a state highway; witness the notorious 30 MPH limit on Hwy 100 through Rock Hill.

C) Perhaps even a "SLOW-MOVING TRAFFIC ON RIGHT" sign could help, to remind motorists that they might encounter bicyclists, slow scooters, and the like in the far right lane. (But please, not another of those "SHARE THE ROAD" signs, which come across as finger-wagging and thus not really helpful.)

Also, yet another question: What sort of street-sweeping program does MODOT have? In particular, do you do any shoulder sweeping? There are a number of state routes, like 67 south of Sunset Hills, that have nice wide shoulders, but they're often quite cluttered with debris. I've noticed that the shoulders of the outer roads along I-44 in Fenton also have a lot of rocks and other debris on them, and though I'd like to use them to let the faster-moving cars by, it's usually not safe to do so due to the debris.

MODOT CR STL said...

Bob, thank you for your comment.

The state constitution controls how transportation is funded in Missouri. Roads and bridges are funded through a user-tax on fuel, driver’s licences, plates and sale of vehicles. According to the state constituation, this money can only be spent on roads and bridges. MoDOT also works closely with the state Legislature each session to get general state revenue budgeted by the Legislature to other modes of transportation.
Through these efforts, in fact, in the next five years, MoDOT has programmed more than $810 million for transportation options besides cars and trucks – that’s nearly 14 percent of the $5.78 billion programmed over the next five years. You can get that information on the MoDOT State Transportation Improvement Program page at http://www.modot.org/plansandprojects/construction_program/STIP2009-2013/index.htm. This money includes $6.65 million (in 2009) to improve ports around the state (nearly six times as much as has programmed in previous years) and $5 million for improvements to Amtrak services (again in 2009).

All that being said, Metro (which is responsible for public transit in the bi-state region around St. Louis) is a separate agency, with its own budget (from local sales taxes) and its own commission. MoDOT and Metro work together extensively, but ultimately Metro is responsible for growing and developing the public transit element in St. Louis. Since Metro is funded by local sales tax dollars, people in St. Louis have the wherewithal to encourage Metro to improve and increase the public transit options in the region.

As far as your concerns about I-64, in the late 1990s, MoDOT, Metro and the East-West Gateway Council of Governments did a joint study on all transportation options for I-64 including where to put MetroLink and how to improve the highway. Public meetings were held in 1996 and 1997 to discuss these options. In 1997, the local elected leaders of St. Louis City, County and the surrounding counties who make up the board of East-West Gateway voted on what improvements should be made. They made the decision that MetroLink should be built along Forest Park Parkway out to Clayton and not along I-64. That MetroLink line opened to passengers two years ago. They also voted to make improvements to I-64 to rebuild it so it could last another 50 years for the future. A future MetroLink line to Chesterfield was approved to follow a rail line from Clayton to WestPort and out to Chesterfield. All of these planning options were public and included public meetings. As the implementing agency, MoDOT is now taking the region’s direction and rebuilding I-64. With more than 160,000 vehicles a day using I-64 between Kingshighway and I-270, and more than two dozen bridges showing significant signs of deterioration, there was little question in most of the people MoDOT talked to this was a valued and important improvement to make.

Along with roads bridges and Metro, MoDOT also works with the Legislature to fund regional airports, water ports and railroads to continue to keep Missouri a transportation hub in the Midwest.

MODOT CR STL said...

Civicminded… – thanks for your question.

The state constitution controls how transportation is funded in Missouri. Roads and bridges are funded through a user-tax on fuel, driver’s licenses, plates and sale of vehicles. According to the state constitution, this money can only be spent on roads and bridges. MoDOT also works closely with the state Legislature each session to get general state revenue budgeted by the Legislature to other modes of transportation.

In St. Louis, public transportation already has a significant champion for federal money – Metro. Metro is a separate organization paid for through local sales tax. MoDOT and Metro do collaborate extensively on ways to reduce congestion and improve air quality, and as stated above MoDOT will invest more than $810 million over the next 5 years in other forms of transportation, and will also invest about $640 million in local transportation programs. MoDOT would like to be able to do more, but we have to balance that with keeping the roadways in Missouri as safe, smooth and well-maintained as we can. MoDOT is aware that we have to be able to help people get where they are going without driving a car, and get some of the freight off the highway system. We need to continue investing in other forms of transportation (to include passenger and freight movement, ports, and the like). We have plans on ways to move Missouri forward in transportation, and have already started discussing those plans with the public. As part of that, we are getting input from our customers (such as yourself) on what elements of that plan we need to focus on, and how to pay for any necessary improvements.

P. said...

As a resident of the Ballwin Ellisville area I am interested in the improvements to route 109 from chesterfield to interstate 55. I have traveled the route M corridor from 55 to route 30, and can see the benefit to completing this roadway. I believe in a common sense approach to road improvements, and sometimes wonder why some communities use the” Not in My Backyard” approach to roadblock a common sense need for such a roadway. Is it true that cars /trucks traveling at 40 mph produce cleaner emissions than those sitting in traffic jams all along 109 every morning? If so the would it not make sense to develop a roadway that could serve as a “green belt” to minimize the congestion throughout our region. What can Modot do for this roadway? As I see it, the longer we wait the more developments will be purposely built in the way by cities along the path, thus costing the taxpayers more $$$$.

G said...

Could you fill us in on what is being built at the old visitor's center property just before the JB Bridge at Koch Road and I-255? What is the timetable for completion...construction seems to have come to a standstill. Thanks!

crsmodot said...

G,

Thanks for your question. The Missouri State Highway Patrol is constructing a CDL training facility at the old rest stop at I-255 and Koch Road.

Because it is a Missouri State Highway Patrol project, we don't have details on their schedule. You can contact the Highway Patrol to learn more about the progress of their project.

MODOT CR STL said...

J -

Thanks for your question. Since the bike/ped coordinator is a state-wide position, they work out of Jefferson City. I forwarded your question up to them, and as soon as I hear something back, I'll make sure I get a response to your question on the blog.

MODOT CR STL said...

P -

Thanks for your concerns about Route 109. MoDOT is currently in the process of rebuilding a section of Route MM to make it safer. Right now, that looks like that could start sometime early next year.

MoDOT is also currently conducting an environmental impact study regarding the construction of a new Route MM between Route 30 and Route 21. The EIS is mandated by the Federal Highway Administration and will look at the impact of both the existing and proposed Route MM on the area's social, economic and cultural resources. In order to get this kind of roadway built, it would need to be a regional push by East West Gateway Council of Governments.

Although it is not necessarily true that vehicles that are moving have "cleaner" emissions, it is true that vehicles that are moving will produce less, overall, emissions, which will improve the air quality around Missouri and the St. Louis region.

MODOT CR STL said...

Ryan -- Thanks for your followup question.

Interstate 44 was re-striped in preparation for the I-64 reconstruction work. The existing lanes were narrowed from 12 foot to 11 foot lanes, using the existing shoulder. This configuration is temporary, and will be re-striped back to its original lanes once the I-64 project is complete. This is mandated by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Route 141 from I-44 to Vance would not be a roadway considered for re-striping and narrowing the lanes. This section of MO 141 already feels narrow because of the barrier wall on each side of the roadway. The right side has no shoulder and the inside shoulder is very narrow. There is very little pavement to work with as compared to the re-striping of I-44. This area is also heavy in truck traffic, which needs all of the lane width available.

As far as signing goes, the only similar sign besides the "Share The Road" sign is a "Slower Traffic Keep Right" sign. This won't help your situation because you are already keeping right. Another sign warning motorists that slow traffic is on the right will just blend into the background because it is commonly known that the left lanes are for passing and the right lane is for slower traffic. The sign would be ignored in the same manner as you mention the "Share The Road" signs are.

Studies have shown raising or lowering a speed limit has almost no impact on the prevailing speed because motorists drive at the speed in which they feel safe, regardless of the actual posted speed limit. Enforcement of speeding is one of the only real ways to reduce the prevailing speed.

kctraveler said...

Apparently you guys cannot even get a blog site going right. This is the second time I find my self typing all this out again... but here it goes.

Thanks MODOT for your incompetent crap you put us through on 70 highway EAST at about the 200 mile marker near Wintzville. You didn't put up signs to warn anyone they would be sitting still for over two hours while you repair an entrance ramp that has nothing to do with the highway itself. You had about ten miles of backed up traffic with no ability to go around your stupidity. You not only didn't have a detour but you trapped everyone into going through your stupidity. Furthermore, you wasted a half a tank of my gas and you made us two hours late to our destination. You made sure the highway patrol was there but you failed to make sure they had white gloves and a whistle. However, they were not short on tickets to issue to folks who could not take your stupidity any longer and decided to cut over the grass to get to the outer road. Would you like some help with signs? I can find a poster board and a sharpe to let folks know how to get around your insanity. Maybe you need some help in getting a crew to work at night - you know... when traffic is at its lowest point? Maybe you can ask the worthless highway patrol to explain to my children why they had to sit in a hot car for over two hours? No, wait, they are too much into keeping the public safe with their tickets. Let me know when you will send me the check for the half a tank of gas you wasted. MORONS

MODOT CR STL said...

KCtraveler –

You’re right – there was a significant problem on eastbound I-70 near Wentzville this Saturday, and there were no excuses for our people not realizing that there was a significant backup and making some adjustments to get traffic moving again.

We had one lane closed on eastbound I-70 over the weekend to do work on a ramp for the Wentzville Parkway. Because of traffic conditions, we set the contract up to do this portion of the work on a weekend, because of reduced travel – it obviously wasn’t enough.

This issue is already receiving attention from district management, and Ed Hassinger, the district engineer for St. Louis says that he is going to take steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Although it might be tempting to go across the median and access the outer road, that is not a good idea – it is unsafe and with the speeds of traffic on the outer road, someone could have gotten hurt.

In the future, you can check the statewide traveler information map at www.modot.org to find out the latest information on roadway closures. You can also check out information on www.gatewayguide.com before you leave to see if there are issues that could impact your drive. We are currently verifying that information on this lane closure was posted.

Again, we apologize for this – we won’t let something like this happen again.

MODOT CR STL said...

KCtraveler:

Thank you again for your additional comments.

larryi said...

Most people know that cars get their best gas mileage at about 50MPH. Also applying one's brakes wastes fuel. It's best to drive at an even rate of speed.
In view of the recent rises in fuel costs, why doesn't MODOT reduce the speed limits on major highways to 50MPH?
50MPH would provide a more even flow with less braking. It would be easier to enforce because if there was congestion and the speed were reduced to 40MPH, it would be easier to reduce speed, with less likelyhood for getting a ticket. It would cause less congestion at entrances and exits where the traffic is going slower. My calculations show that the "per lane" flow rate would be reduced a negligible amount. A 20 mile commute would only take 4 minutes longer. In the long run, it may create a gasoline surplus which in itself would reduce fuel cost.

tom candelario said...

I travel every week day on I-170 from the Galleria to Hanely Rd. I am apalled at the number of chunks of concrete missing from the pavement in both directions. Modot patches these areas, but only the most obivious holes. Leaving many others for the motorist to dodge. For more then a year I have been tryng to make a mental note of where the holes are located. Sometimes verring to one side of whatever lane I happen to be in or to move to another lane altogether in an effort to miss hitting these holes. As far as I can tell, this road surface is deteriorating badly. When Modot patches these holes, why pick and choose? Simply patch all the holes! Why take the time to pick and choose?

MODOT CR STL said...

Larryi –

Thank you for your question.

MoDOT is unable to change the speed limits across the state. The speed limits are set by the Missouri legislature, and so any change would have to be set by them. Now, MoDOT does have the authority to change those limits based on conditions (i.e. roadway safety or congestion issues). Traffic studies have shown that people will travel at the speeds they feel comfortable. Since Interstates are relatively open, smooth roads, people will travel faster – no matter what the current speed limit is set at. As you may remember, this was an issue during the later 1970s and early 1980s when speed limits were set at 55 – it was rare that people traveled that speed, unless there was significant enforcement. Traveling below the posted speed limit (as long as you don’t go below the minimum speed) is acceptable, and may become the personal choice for those people, such as yourself, who want to save themselves money.

MODOT CR STL said...

Tom:

Thanks for your question.

We make sure we patch all the dangerous potholes right away. For the rest of them, we schedule a maintenance crew to do the work, and patch all the potholes that we are currently aware of. We try to limit work in this area because we want to minimize the impact of the I-64 closure to the traveling public.

If you see potholes along the roadway, please feel free to call our customer service at 340-341-4100 to report them.

allan pochop said...

Wed Nov. 26, Thanksgiving day weekend. Modot, closes down I-270E from two lanes to one lane. Traffice backed up for miles. For bogus road construction?
Who made this decision? The state needs to review his qualifications. Promote him, please get him off the road.
Any idea how much time and fuel was wasted? Truckers, paid by the mile, having to drive by the hour. WOW they got hurt big time.
Any responsibility or accountablility in the Modot??

MODOT CR STL said...

Allan -- If you would, please provide a little more information on your comment -- It would be helpful to know the location and the time of your traffic backup on I-270. It sounds like it is in North County, but without more information, I would be unable to determine if there a crash on the roadway, or if there was a maintenance operation or the like.

Thank you!