Ward 15 Study Recommends One-Way Conversions, Pedestrian Enhancements

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We have to start with the fact it’s just stupid to do traffic plan on a ward-by-ward (1/28th of the city) basis without the context of a larger city plan, but that’s where we are in St. Louis City. 15th Ward Alderwoman Megan-Ellyia Green found upon taking office in 2014 that among the top concerns of residents was traffic.

Some were concerned about added bike lanes, some were concerned that more weren’t being added. Some wanted more stops signs or stop lights, some wanted fewer. Megan favored an all too rare evidence-based approach. She discovered that no traffic counts or study had been conducted in the 15th Ward in years.

In the relatively short span of a couple years, big changes had come to area streets. South Grand was reduced from four traffic lanes to two. Arsenal along Tower Grove Park saw a lane reduction and the addition of bike lanes. Big changes may be on the way for Gravois Avenue as well. Yet there had been no re-evaluation of traffic issues.

Mapping resident concerns:

15th Ward 2

15th Ward 1

On Hartford Street, the figures were a bit higher with through traffic representing up to 6-percent of weekday and up to 7-percent of weekend peak period traffic volumes west of Grand Boulevard. This was much higher on Gustine.

The entire study (2nd DRAFT) is posted below, as is the document detailing recommendations. The most significant change coming could be the near complete conversion of one-way streets to two-way. Parallel parking would remain on both sides of streets, which measure 30-36 feet wide (the one exception being 20-foot wide Humphrey west of Morganford).

Arsenal and Chippewa at the north and south ends of the ward respectively have dedicated bike lanes, and recommendations include dedicated striped bike lanes on Utah Street. That east-west street has a wide median and 28-foot single traffic lanes with parallel parking in each direction. Wyoming Street would be marked with shared bike lanes between Grand and Morganford.

Other recommended enhancements include high-visibility (continental) crosswalks, curb extensions, lighted pedestrian crossings, painted medians, and more. At locations such as Center Cross Drive at Arsenal, pedestrians experience a 200-foot wide crossing with no crosswalk. There’s also no crosswalk at the west side of this intersection. Including Bent Avenue to the east, there are six crossings with just one having a painted crosswalk.

Existing conditions at Center Cross Drive and Arsenal:

15th Ward 6

Two concepts for providing safe access from the Tower Grove South neighborhood to Tower Grove Park at Center Cross Drive:

15th Ward 7

Recommended enhancements:

15th Ward 4

Example of painted and protected bump outs at intersection:

15th Ward 8

Example of high-visibility (continental) crosswalks at Gustine and Juniata:

15th Ward 5

Traffic counts and vehicle speed on 15th Ward streets:

15th Ward 3

15th Ward boundaries:

15th Ward map


Ward 15 Trafic Study – Recommendations, March 2016 by nextSTL.com

15th Ward Traffic Study – Full Version, March 2016 by nextSTL.com

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  • Rodney Malone

    I’m confused why two way streets are better. Right now, the one way street allows my kids to play in the front yard on 4000 Connecticut without too much traffic. I think about how unfortunate my Wyoming friends are all the time with their two-way street. Am I missing something? We’re certainly not doing it so cars can move more easily through the neighborhood are we?

    • Sean G.

      Per the above “Tower Grove Neighborhood Traffic Study:”

      “However, one-way streets often tend to have higher speeds than two-way streets as drivers do not need to be cautious of oncoming traffic. One-way streets can also increase travel distances of motorists and create confusion for non-local residents (50).”

      “The two-way streets will reconnect the grid and distribute traffic volumes evenly as well as encourage motorists to be more attentive to driving behaviors…As two-way streets, the narrower roadways will act as “queuing streets” requiring drivers to coordinate passing in areas where vehicle are parked on both sides of the street (57).”

  • Riggle

    So. Nothing about Grand and Gravoize? The worst pedestrian intersection in the City (save Jefferson and Gravoize).

  • RyleyinSTL

    Center Cross is a disaster so improvements are very welcome. I also favor the addition of better crosswalks. I’m cold on the one-way conversions.

    I bike the area constantly and can’t for the life of me see why bike lanes inside the neighborhood are needed.

    • Colleen Kirby

      Right? I need more info on that one. Our neighborhood’s interior streets seem to be pretty bike-able as is…

  • DB

    Not sure how I feel about these, we all know traffic doesn’t stop at the Ward boundaries. City wide traffic study would be better than these puzzle piece studies. 16th and 14th are doing a joint study that’s kicking off April 6th, also done by CBB
    And I believe CBB also did the 6th Ward

  • The Ghost of H L Mencken

    Why cant Tower Grove South have attractive crosswalks like Shaw?

    • Colleen Kirby

      I believe those were paid for with Ward Capital Funds. TGS can have them if that’s what they decide to spend theirs on, which I believe Megan determines through the participatory budgeting process. That said, I think I just heard that these are technically not allowed anymore due to outdated safety standards which say painted walks (other than normal stripes) are unsafe.

      • The problem isn’t the paint, it’s the visibility to drivers. The standards allow variations, but they have to be high contrast, reflective, and viable to the color blind. The ones in Shaw suffer in all three categories, but especially in the third (they’re predominantly green, which makes them almost invisible to someone who’s red/green color blind). The city’s new pedestrian coordinator decided that rather than spend his limited time (he’s a department of 1) policing crosswalk design, the city would just use standard designs from now on. It’s a judicious use of resources.

        • Colleen Kirby

          Glad there is a lot more nuance to it! I was afraid it was an across the board ban. This makes sense. I’m sorry we just now have a pedestrian coordinator, but perhaps that is a baby step towards changing the way the streets department designs and accepts new design concepts.

          • Sebastian

            Non-standard crossings are a distraction and unsafe. These effects come in nuances. St. Louis drivers already disregard pedestrian crossings with impunity, so making them pretty is both silly and dangerous.

    • DB

      Those are no longer allowed by the Feds. Technically they were never allowed but Feds put out a memo reminding everyone of that. Doesn’t meet standards and the standard is just 2 lines or a ladder like design. Appanently cities would easily lose a law suit if someone was hit in a non standard sidewalk

      • Brent Hugh

        This is basically an incorrect and completely overblown interpretation of the FHWA letter & regulations. I realize some within the city of STL have been saying this (again, incorrectly/overblown) so I’m not blaming you or anything, but it is important to have correct information out there on this topic.

        Generally, decorative crosswalks, if done correctly, are just fine and they can help improve safety and neighborhood involvement in the issue–which can be just as important, if not more so, that engineering factors per se.


    • Matt B

      They painted the TGS crosswalks green with Fleurs in them. They were short lived though since they started making road improvements soon after but some are still slightly visible.