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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What's on your mind?

Here is your opportunity to ask questions about MoDOT projects in the St. Louis Region, or to get information on MoDOT transportation issues in St. Louis. Post a question and we'll respond to it.


Ryan said...

So, let's grant that a bridge over the Meramec (even a pedestrian-only bridge) would be a bit expensive. How else can 141 be made safer?

It turns out that the Meramec is only one of three obstacles that make it difficult for anyone riding a bicycle or slow-speed scooter to commute on 141. The other two are:

1) The railroad tracks south of Elam Ave
2) The I-44 interchange

It's only about 0.4 miles from Marshall Rd to Elam Ave on the other side of the Meramec. The roadway is flat, so visibility is good; that portion of 141 is relatively safe.

But currently you can't get anywhere from Elam Ave, because there's a set of railroad tracks with no crossing just south of Elam, and there's no good way to get across I-44 except the interchange with 141.

I can see some reasonable possibilities here:

1a) A level crossing across the railroad tracks could connect Elam Ave with the outer road north of I-44. Pylons could be put in place to make the crossing pedestrian/scooter/bicycle-only. Then slow-speed vehicles and pedestrians could take just the relatively safer 0.4-mile stretch from Marshall Rd to Elam Ave, and avoid the more dangerous I-44/141 interchange. (This would depend on how the tracks are used, though; there often seem to be trains stopped along there, which might make a level crossing impractical.)

1b) Alternately, there's already an unpaved path in Buder Park running south of the Meramec to just short of 141. It could be paved, and a connecting paved path could be created at the north end of Elam Ave, running under the 141 bridge, if there's enough room under the bridge. (But flooding could be an occasional problem.)

1c) Instead of a level crossing, a high ramped pedestrian/bicycle/slow-speed scooter walkway/bridge could be built over the tracks, similar to ones that already exist across I-44 and I-64 in various parts of St. Louis. This would avoid problems with stopped trains.

2a) Once we have access to the outer road, it's possible to go through Buder Park and get to the reasonably safe I-44 & Bowles interchange. But currently the roads through the park are gravelly and not (as I recall) in very good shape. They could be paved to create a more workable roadway. Again, pylons could restrict the connecting parts of the road (at the east end of the park) to pedestrians, bicycles, and scooters--not that I think a lot of cars would want to go that way anyhow. (That road is already gated closed near Bowles.)

2b) Or a high ramped pedestrian/bicycle/slow-speed walkway/bridge could be built across I-44; again, similar to existing ones over I-44 and I-64. This could link the outer road north of I-44 with Meramec Station Rd south of I-44. At Meramec Station, in turn, it's easy to cross 141 and get access to the south outer road or to any part of Fenton.

If such steps were taken, they'd remove the majority of the danger bicyclists and low-speed scooter riders face in commuting to and from Fenton on 141. This would also open up new recreational possibilities for bicyclists who want to ride in Fenton without having to go all the way around to the Gravois Rd bridge.

MODOT CR STL said...

Ryan -- Although your suggestions have merit, only the last one (constructing a ped/bike ramp over the highway) falls into MoDOT's jurisdiction. All the other ones are on municipal or county roads/property and so they would be the ones to pursue them. As far as the last suggestion goes, again, it's a matter of money. Improving the interchange of I-44 and Route 141 is a priority for MoDOT -- there are other projects that have higher priority that have to be completed first. Since we can’t afford the interchange project, we can’t afford the bike/ped overpass, either.

If you were interested in pursuing your other suggestions, I might either talk to the local municipalities about how they may be willing to construct pedestrian/bike paths along your suggested routes, or get with organizations like Trailnet or GreatRivers Greenway.

MODOT CR STL said...

Ryan --

As a followup, I was checking with our traffic folks and they recommended cyclists using the Maritz overpass to get over I-44. It has pedestrian signals and a wide shoulder. I hope that helps a little more.

Thanks again for your comments.

Ryan said...

I do use the Maritz overpass on my way back from work. But I can't use it on my way to work unless I were to ride the wrong way on the outer road.

G said...

I was wondering about the criteria for the use of the changeable message boards. Specifically, this past summer, I noticed that the changeable message board in south county on I-255 would have nothing on it. However, not far away was a portable display that had the air quality forecast on it. Wouldn't the air quality forecast be a perfect use for the permanent message board rather than the portable one?

MODOT CR STL said...

G --

Thanks for your comments. The primary purpose of the overhead message boards is to put travel information (travel times, alerts on crashes, etc) -- During non-peak hours, we may put other messages on the boards.

The information on clean air, although important, doesn't primarily deal with how traffic is flowing, and so normally doesn't go on the message boards -- to help make sure that message gets out, MoDOT and our partners worked to get a grant to purchase the portable message boards just for air quality notes.

Thanks again for your question.

Tim said...

Just a suggestion for a nice to have... For the large traffic electronic info signs, it would be nice if there were no traffic messages to display, that MODOT could display something informative like the current time and temperature. Like the new signs by the way!

MoDOT- Andrew Gates said...

Tim -- Our goal is to usually have traffic information on the signs. Some of them, due to connection problems or a lack of sensors on the roadway ahead, may not be able to have that information, yet. When that happens, we usually try to use a generic message. Most people have a clock in their car, and trying to get the temperature offset correct on one of those huge boards can be a real challenge -- I understand they can put off a good amount of heat.

Andrew Gates