St Louis County has been a big supporter of projects that receive grant money from the Federal Government. Many of these projects involve bike trails, low income or senior housing, elimination of vehicular traffic lanes, and building open air outlet malls with parking locations hidden from view. The majority of the projects decided upon by Planning and Zoning are taking place in St Louis County District 6 being proposed by County Councilman Steve Stenger.
Recently, there is a disturbing practice in the way St Louis County is implementing projects without acknowledging the wants and needs of the community. There is a new highway project planned for Morganford Road that had absolutely zero public input! The Highways Department put up orange cones to block vehicular traffic from the right lane of the road, leaving cars no choice but to travel in the left traffic lane. LED signs were placed to inform the public that this is a Bicycle Lane TEST.
The Department of Highways does not list Morganford Road as a planned project nor do they have any bids for a project for that section of highway. How does the County justify eliminating two lanes of traffic on a busy, high volume street without ANY public discussion? It appears that labeling something as a “Test” provides cover to avoid public outcry.
In the past, there have been community meetings to inform the public about St Louis County’s plans for the community. Recently, there have been many complaints about the community meeting process. Many of the complaints surround the County’s lack the proper notification for the public meetings. Now, it appears the County has found a method to bypass the process altogether by saying this is only a “test”.
Last year, Oakville residents attended St Louis County Council meetings to protest the lack of notification. St Louis County Statute 1003-300 clearly states that when a zoning change is proposed on a specific property instead of general property, it is required to issue a public notice in all news publications (in business over 3 yrs) in that County District and requires signage that is visible from the road. Oakville’s signage was set so far back from that street that it was not visible. The only publications the County chose to submit to were the Ladue News and the St Louis Countian (used primarily by attorneys) which requires a $300 subscription. No resolution of intention notices were provided to residents and business owners in the immediate vicinity.
There are additional problems with the elimination of a traffic lane in order to put in bike lanes. This agenda is in compliance with the Complete Streets ordinance sponsored by County Councilman Pat Dolan. I attended many of the meetings in the Complete Streets debate. There were so many problems with the Complete Streets ordinance that Councilwoman Hazel Erby removed her name as co-sponsor because of the safety issues.
Many bicycle organizations had spokespeople to oppose Complete Streets expressing concerns about the increased number of bicycle-car accidents that have occur where the bike lanes are present. When a bike lane is to the right of a right-turning vehicle, it creates a “coffin corner” since the bike is in the blind spot of the turning vehicle. A bicyclist that drives in the vehicle lane is fully visible to the traffic and therefore is in a safer situation.
The addition of bike lanes on Morganford Road will only cause additional congestion on a street that is already dealing with a heavy traffic flow. Personally, I almost had an accident when I was driving down a lane that had always been open, when all of a sudden, the right lane was blocked by orange cones and I was trapped by traffic in the left lane.
TrailNet has been a major advocate of building bike trails throughout the St Louis Metro Area. They have been very active politically by sending busloads of people to lobby Jefferson City for bike trails. Their 2011 1099 tax return states they receive 90.59% of their income from public funds. $58,000 came directly from Great Rivers Greenway who received their funding from East West Gateway Council of Governments, the direct beneficiary of public sales tax funds appropriated by several ballot measures approved by voters. The CEO of TrailNet is Andrew Rothschild. My personal opinion is that Andrew Rothschild is wealthy enough without our taxpayer funds!
A spokesman for the Department of Highways said the Complete Streets agenda of putting bike lanes on Morganford and throughout St Louis County is expected to cost taxpayers over $1 Billion. Changes to the ordinance gave the Department of Highways control over the expense on when and where they add bike lanes.
Please express your concerns about the Bike Lane “Test” on Morganford Road. Contact the Department of Highways at (314) 615-8504 or complete the Citizen Feedback form at this link: http://www.stlouisco.com/YourGovernment/CountyDepartments/HighwaysandTraffic/CitizenFeedbackForm
Talk about these key points:
- The elimination of traffic lanes is creating a situation that increases congestion on an already busy street
- Right-turning traffic crossing right lane bike lanes will create a “coffin corner” and become a safety issue for bicyclists
- There was no public notification process
- What is the estimated expense of the project on Morganford Road and what is the scope of the planned changes.
You may also express your concerns at a meeting of the St. Louis County Council on Tuesday evenings at 6:00 p.m in the County Council Chambers
1st Floor, 41 South Central Avenue in Clayton. Go up the escalator and the Council Chambers is to the right.
The only exceptions for the remainder of 2014 are: Thursday meetings November 6 and November 12 due to the General Election and Veterans Day holiday, both of which fall on Tuesdays; a make-up meeting Wednesday, December 3 at 5:00 p.m.; an afternoon meeting (3:00 p.m). December 16; recess dates (no meetings) on December 23 & 30.