Proposed lane reductions on Gravois getting mixed reaction - KMOV.com

Proposed lane reductions on Gravois getting mixed reaction

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St. Louis County is testing the waters for lane reductions on Gravois Road in an effort to create a more "Main Street-like" feel. (Credit: KMOV) St. Louis County is testing the waters for lane reductions on Gravois Road in an effort to create a more "Main Street-like" feel. (Credit: KMOV)
Residents stood outside the open house with signs that said “We love cars” and “great streets = slow streets.”  (Credit: KMOV) Residents stood outside the open house with signs that said “We love cars” and “great streets = slow streets.” (Credit: KMOV)

AFFTON (KMOV.com) – St. Louis County is testing the waters for lane reductions on Gravois Road in an effort to create a more "Main Street-like" feel through South County.

The Great Streets Gravois Project would affect the 1.7 mile stretch from River Des Peres to MacKenzie. They want to improve sidewalks, lighting and pedestrian safety. The biggest part of it would be to create a road diet from Seibert to Elgin, reducing it from five lanes to three.

Wednesday night, residents and business owners in Affton attended an open house at Affton High School to learn more details.

Tyler May from Federhofer’s Bakery was among them. The family-run bakery off Gravois has been in business for more than 50 years. May says they’d love to see the community spruced up a bit.

“More curb appeal, lights, maybe some landscaping to spruce up the area, give it a more modern feel, more of a community type feeling,” said May.

St. Louis County measured the community reaction last summer and put together some ideas, now its time to make a decision. A survey is in place to hear from everyone, but they plan to make a decision in the next month.

The biggest point of contention is the lane reduction.

Lynne LeBaube and other residents stood outside the open house with signs that said “We love cars” and “great streets = slow streets.”

“We don’t want sidewalks, we want our lanes, forever since the 1800's we’ve had those lanes, and we want those lanes, we don’t want congestion,” said LeBaube who lives at Gravois and Mackenzie and drives Gravois every day.

Justin Carney, the Director of St. Louis County Planning, says they’ve heard the concerns but traffic studies show the road can handle the traffic.

Every day around 18,000 people drive on the stretch of Gravois. But it’s down several thousand over the last few years.

“Lane reductions will help with speed, Gravois is posted at 35 [MPH] people are driving 38-40 [MPH], so it slows it back down to that speed,” said Carney.

Carney says the timing works out because this summer, MoDOT will repave and restripe the stretch of Gravois. So, if the county decides to move forward with the road diet, MoDOT will simply paint fewer lanes.

The space from the former lanes will then be used for parking for the time being. Carney says either parallel parking or for the businesses. There won’t be anything but a stripe of paint, though, designating it as a parking lane. The expanded sidewalks would come at a later date and would require additional funding.

Carney says they are looking at two funding options, federal funding or a Community Improvement District (CID)

“We’ll spend a lot of time with the business owners in the corridor this summer and fall about creating a CID which has local control of money and over time build up revenues to do the changes were talking about,” said Carney.

Timeline wise, this whole project is still a ways away, the only thing Affton residents could see this year would be the lane reductions. And even then, it could still be a trial.

“Ideally we need to give this some time,” said Carney “We’d like to get through a few seasons, we’d like to see it in the summer, we’d like to see it in the winter, but if this is just really a failure, yeah we can reverse it.”

Read more about the project and voice your opinion here.

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