A 27-year-old man was killed by a driver while crossing Lucas-Hunt Road after exiting a #64 Metrobus around 11 pm last Wednesday night. The driver stayed at the scene and is spinning err cooperating with police investigators. The reportage in the Post Dispatch didn’t have much more detail, so we don’t know if the driver didn’t have headlights on, was under the influence, speeding, distracted by a phone, in-car touch screen, or a passenger, operating a vehicle with an autonomous feature enabled, operating a vehicle with a too high front end, etc. What is quite apparent though is that gross negligence on the part of St. Louis County played a role in the loss of life.
Gross negligence is a lack of care that demonstrates reckless disregard for the safety or lives of others, which is so great it appears to be a conscious violation of other people’s rights to safety.Cornell Law School
NextSTL – 2016 – MoDOT, Gross Negligence and Death on St. Louis Roads
Strong Towns – Gross Negligence
Lucas-Hunt Road is maintained by the St. Louis County Department of Transportation and Public Works. The county’s choices here have created the dangerous conditions, obvious to any reasonable person, which amount to a conscious violation of people’s rights to safety. The county has done just about everything it can to coerce people to use cars here, but some are still using the bus. With a bus stop serving the Laurel Park Apartments, which boasts its affordability and accessibility, it’s obvious people are going to try to cross Lucas-Hunt to use it.
Our mission is to provide a transportation system that supports multi-modes, encourages safety, regional growth, and opportunity. Public Works strives to provide enhanced public service and reasonable, applicable building and property maintenance codes.St. Louis County Department of Transportation and Public Works
But there are no crosswalks at the intersection with Jacobi. In fact there are none on Lucas-Hunt for 1.35 miles between Hord Ave and Halls Ferry Rd. No reasonable person can be expected to go all the way to either end to cross. There are five bus stops in each direction along that span. There are no traffic lights, nor signalized crosswalks. The road has 11-foot lanes with a 45 mph speed limit, which is probably easily surpassed given the design of the road. The chances of surviving a collision at that speed are slim to none.
The driver killed the man after dark. There are no street lights along Lucas-Hunt let alone at this intersection nor around the other bus stops along this section. So only a driver’s headlights are present to illuminate a person crossing the road. There are also no sidewalks along Jacobi from Lucas-Hunt to the roundabout in the residential area. The apartment complex owns that piece of Jacobi. It’s hypocritical to advertise the accessibility of the apartments while not providing a sidewalk.
Not only is this area a death trap for pedestrians, it’s dangerous for cyclists. Some parts have a shoulder one could cycle on, until they get to the bridge just to the west, of course. The idea of inviting someone to ride a bike with 45+ mph traffic is willful endangerment.
It’s dangerous for drives too. Without a traffic light, left turns are quite risky. Lucas-Hunt was the site of a car crash in 2020 that killed five people, which is the deadliest crash in St. Louis County since 2005.
What to do to reduce the dangerous conditions the county created? Add street lights, traffic lights, and a crosswalk and pedestrian refuge island on the east side of the intersection (things many intersections on Lucas-Hunt and elsewhere around the county could use). Sure that would cost money. I realize the county spread out too much and is thus spread too thin to afford nice things, given its huge liability burden from its automobile infrastructure. Perhaps the county should pose to voters a local gas tax that would fund safety improvements throughout the county, or, if a tax increase is unpalatable, have a certain amount of money dedicated for safety improvements with each death and serious injury taken from its road building budget.
Remove the bus stops and bike lane signs? Maybe, though that would be the last step in the county’s efforts to coerce everyone to drive and would violate the stated mission of the St. Louis County Department of Transportation and Public Works
St. Louis County’s poor land use choices and infrastructure choices have created the dangerous conditions at Jacobi and Lucas-Hunt that contributed to this man’s death. It’s obvious to any reasonable person that this is a reckless disregard for people’s safety. This man’s life was worth more than the cost of safety improvements here. County officials and the St. Louis County Department of Transportation and Public Works should be ashamed of themselves. Take action before someone else dies.
*Correction – Under the Missouri Constitution only permits cities, towns, and villages may enact a local fuel tax with a 2/3 approval by voters.