‘I felt safer’ Visitors say orange barriers along Washington Ave. made a difference

Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 4:31 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Extra security measures were taken in downtown St. Louis this weekend as the first major teen volleyball tournament returned to ‘America’s Dome’ for the first time since tragedy struck in February.

Orange barriers were placed along Washington Avenue, taking out a lane of traffic and giving tournament participants a safer environment near the stadium.

“Downtowns nowadays are tough,” said Drew Hayes, a volleyball parent.

Drew Hayes, coming from Tampa, Florida, for the tournament, knows downtown safety has been difficult for many cities to manage over recent years.

“It just needs to have a bigger focus when it comes to these tournaments,” said Hayes.

Overall he and his daughter’s team took precautions and said they felt safe this weekend.

He believes the orange barriers that slowed all the vehicles down Washington Ave. helped with that.

“I didn’t see any speeding from cars, I didn’t see anything that was unusual, so it did something. I felt safer,” said Hayes.

This comes just over a month after a Tennessee teenager primed for a college volleyball career, Janae Edmonson, lost her legs after a driver sped downtown causing a massive crash.

The out-of-town players heard about it and had mixed reactions on whether they felt safe.

“Not that much because of everything that happened,” said Dayanara Lopez from Laredo, Texas.

“We just walked during the day and went to the hotel at night,” said Ashleigh Chattaway, from Orlando.

It made some feel more nervous.

“The experience that happened a few weeks ago was still kind of scary,” said Alexa Martinez from Texas.

But the police presence and the barriers helped.

“I felt safer now that the things were there and there was more police around the city,” said Martinez.

Nick Desideri, a spokesperson for Mayor Tishaura Jones said the orange barriers were driven by the Downtown Community Improvement District.

He said the effort was not specifically done due to the Janae Edmonson tragedy, instead, these efforts have been made in the past on Washington Ave. for large events.

The DCID issued a permit for the barriers, and they’ll be up next weekend as well, as another volleyball tournament comes to the Dome.

Ron Nolen, a security officer for security company ‘The City’s Finest,’ seemed to agree that the barriers helped pedestrians.

“I would say it’s more organized with us connecting the traffic, it was much safer,” said Nolen.

Nolen still is optimistic the city can keep making efforts to make downtown safer, continue to bring in these large events and become a place people flock to again.

“As I was growing up this used to be like the place to hang out and you didn’t have to worry about safety so much so hopefully we can do a complete 360 and maybe this can still be the place to come out and hangout,” said Nolen.