The first phase of a construction project aiming to improve the traffic bottleneck on West Broadway between Garth Avenue and West Boulevard is set to begin after gaining City Council approval on Monday night.
The council voted unanimously to hire CH2M Hill Inc. of St. Louis to prepare conceptual and preliminary design plans for the project. Solving traffic problems on Broadway have come to the forefront within the last two years, but the congestion has been an issue since the 1970s.
Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade stressed that the public will have a say in the construction project that has some anonymous residents up in arms.
“There seems to be lots of jumping to conclusions and assumptions about what’s already been done,” Wade said. “It’s important for the public to understand (that) no decision has been made and there will be lots of opportunity for public input.”
The public outcry noted by the council came in the form of an anonymous flier that circulated through the West Broadway neighborhood and on the Internet in September. The flier advocated widening West Broadway into four lanes to reduce the traffic through Ash Street, West Worley Street and Stewart Road. "Free West Broadway" signs posted this fall on Stadium and West Broadway shared the same sentiments.
But, a July 2007 traffic study by St. Louis-based engineers Crawford, Bunte and Brammeier recommended medians, left-turn lanes and roundabouts to decrease accidents.
A year ago, more than 60 residents agreed with many of the recommendations in a letter to the council but added that improving the safety of sidewalks and adding landscaping to the proposed medians could improve the historic drive in a way that four lanes would not.
While there has been plenty of conversation on the topic, no residents were on hand to speak at Monday night's meeting.
“I think it’s a very important step,” Mayor Darwin Hindman said of Monday night’s vote to begin the project. “It’s an area that definitely needs some design done. The traffic study was wonderful in revealing what we can do. The sidewalk situation is basically deplorable. We need to make further process.”
The vote allots a $105,000 contract for a preliminary design, City Manager Bill Watkins said. The money comes from the Capital Improvement Sales Tax Fund, though the $350,000 that would be needed for the second phase of the project has no funding.