Traffic can be frustrating at times, but it's also the lifeblood of our community. Des Peres would not be the city it is without the commerce brought to us by I-270 and Manchester Road. A traffic jam around West County Center in December is usually a good sign that shoppers are spending money, and Des Peres will benefit via sales taxes.
But we usually hear more concerns about traffic in neighborhoods. Efforts to deal with traffic are generally called Traffic Calming. In 2017, an ad hoc traffic calming committee was formed by the Board of Aldermen. In conjunction with that committee meeting, the Director of Public Works prepared a Traffic Calming Toolbox.
Traditionally, the City has used consultants to collect traffic data (speed and volume) on major streets in Des Peres every 3-5 years. This was last performed in 2017. Data is available for St. Louis County and MoDOT highways through their respective websites (MoDOT: I-270 and Manchester Road; County: Ballas, Barrett Station, and Dougherty Ferry).
More recently, the Public Works Department acquired four traffic sensors of its own, and uses them to collect data in neighborhoods throughout the year. Each sensor collects speed and counts the number of vehicles traveling in one direction, thus they are deployed in pairs. By collecting this data, we have objective evaluation of traffic, rather than subjective perceptions. This information is then shared with Public Safety. If you'd like to request specific data, contact Steve Meyer. Steve gave a brief presentation of this report to the Board of Aldermen at their regular meeting on 5/10/21.
In August 2019, the American Public Works Association (APWA) published this guide called Taking it to the Streets: Information for the Non-Traffic Engineer, which helps explain the processes followed by Transportation Engineers.
Several times each year, we get requests for "Children at Play" or similar signage. There have been some signs of this type in neighborhoods for many years, and residents are permitted to put up their own on private property. However, the City typically does not install new Children at Play signs. As elaborated in this white paper, many studies have proven such signs have no effect on speeds. Thus, installing such signage may even have an adverse impact by encouraging children to play in the street and giving a false sense of security.
This article from the December 2023 edition of The APWA Reporter, includes the experiences of one City Manager/PW Director in regards to traffic calming requests. Many of us in public works locally have experienced similar stories, and we learn from the mistakes of others in order to keep from repeating them ourselves.
Last updated 12/26/23