Revisiting Florissant Road

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Less than two weeks ago, we published a guest editorial by Marveena Miller, advocating a road diet on Florissant Road. With the extreme speeding and serious crashes we’ve experienced around Ferguson, this topic generated tremendous interest among our readers and residents. Later, we also published an editorial by Mayor Ella Jones, in which she appears to oppose the plan.

First, some have panned this as a private effort, or a duplication of “past administrations who ruled on whims.” In fact, in late 2013, city council received a report from Crawford, Bunte, and Brammeier, a traffic engineering firm, studying “improvements to traffic along S. Florissant Road from Airport to Woodstock.” This report, summarized in the minutes of that council meeting, recommended the reducing of the roadway from four lanes to three. That is precisely what present advocates have requested.

In his public comment at last night’s council meeting, Gerry Noll, a Ferguson resident with a strong interest in such matters, referred to a study by the U.S. Department of Transportation, in which they evaluated the effects and effectiveness of road diets. The results were amazing. In case after case, they found huge reductions in extreme speeding, with some projects experiencing a reduction of more than 90%. Because of this, there were also significant decreases in crashes and injuries. And perhaps most important to those opposing this plan, there was no increase in traffic on nearby local streets. In fact, in some cases, traffic on those streets dropped substantially. That isn’t surprising: If through traffic moves from Florissant Road to 170, they won’t be cutting through your neighborhood to avoid a red light.

As it happens, Google navigation provides us with great information on what is likely to happen with a Florissant Road restructuring. At the moment, if you are going from Florissant Road at I-70, to get a treat at Doozle’s, it’s a 10 minute trip on Florissant Road, and 9 minutes on 170. Diverting to Elizabeth causes a great delay. The only hitch is, during afternoon rush, northbound 170 has long delays getting onto eastbound 270. Presumably, these delays will be resolved by the 270 reconstruction. A road diet on Florissant Road will simply push through traffic onto 170.

Will it reduce speeding on Florissant Road? Well, who is the person driving up Florissant at highway speed? Is it UMSL staff, going home to Lake Pembroke? Or is it drivers from all over, going to places other than Ferguson? We are confident it is the latter, and that a road diet will greatly reduce speeding and reckless driving on Florissant Road.

We concur with Mayor Jones’ desire to govern based upon facts and research, and not whims. We therefore urge the Mayor to retrieve the study which was prepared not many years ago, at the city’s expense. And read the article from the Department of Transportation, which includes case studies very comparable to our own situation. She can’t help but conclude that a road diet on Florissant Road will be helpful to everyone in our community. Then, instead of opposing this plan, she can sponsor the bill.