News 4 Investigates: Dangerous intersection in North County years away from being fixed

Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 7:25 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV) - A plan to fix one of St. Louis County’s most dangerous intersections is years away from happening, leaving families who lost loved ones on the road concerned their loss won’t be the last.

Recent reporting by News 4 Investigates exposed how multiple people lost their lives at the intersection of Chambers Road and Elizabeth Avenue in Ferguson.

The road is owned by St. Louis County, which acknowledges the intersection is dangerous. However, the County claimed it could not afford a fix and asked the City of Ferguson to pitch in.

After News 4 Investigates started asking questions, St. Louis County’s Transportation Department agreed to pay for most of the planned fix. According to Transportation Department Spokesman David Wrone, the project is estimated to cost between $960,000 and $1,560,000. The city agreed to pay between $160,000-$280,000 of the final project cost.

The plan involves reducing the lanes on Chambers Road from four to three, with one lane for travel in each direction and a center turning lane. The reduced lanes will run on Chambers Road between Florissant Road and Forrestwood Drive.

At the intersection of Chambers Road and Elizabeth Avenue, the traffic light will be replaced with a roundabout.

Wrone says the county plans to start taking bids for the project in 2024 and expects construction to start the following year.

Some families say that the timeline needs to be shorter.

“There is money out there, I think that’s a poor excuse. You cannot put a monetary value on people’s lives,” said Felicia Rogers, who lost her two nephews in a crash earlier this year. “Who’s going to take responsibly for these lives that are being lost?”

In January 2022, Roger’s nephews, 20-year-old LaShawn Hopkins and his brother 18-year-old Ronald Washington died at the intersection. Ferguson police say the brothers were traveling east on Chambers Road when they ran a red light and hit a pickup that was turning onto Elizabeth Avenue.

The brothers’ grandmother Virginia Dulaney has lived in the county for years and she says the danger is well-known on that stretch of road.

“I can’t tell you the number of times I come through here and there are accidents,” Dulaney said. “How many lives have to be lost before you decide this is a priority?”

On Friday, News 4 Investigates brought the family’s concerns to St. Louis County Council President Rita Heard Days.

“In my district, this rises to the level of my number one priority,” Heard Days said.

Heard Days said she asked the director of the County’s Transportation Department why it’s going to take so long to fix the road.

“It comes down to funding. It comes down to manpower as well. Some things that we might have been able to do as a county, we just don’t have the manpower or the resources to do that so much of this has to be contracted out,” Heard Days explained.

She said she plans to keep pushing to speed up the project and would like to use federal infrastructure money to help make that happen.

According to Heard Days, the county still hasn’t seen a dime from that funding package and hasn’t been given a date for when those funds will be available.

The County Transportation Department turned down a request for an interview on Friday.

While they wait on the construction, the county and city agreed to put up temporary barriers called channelizers to reduce the lanes on Chambers Road. The intended goal is to slow down traffic since speeding has been a factor in multiple crashes.

The county doesn’t have a date set for installing the barriers.

Wrone says the county is waiting for a public hearing with the city, which is supposed to be held within the next month.