By Erin Achenbach
Bayless Avenue will be undergoing a “road diet” and repaving beginning in 2022, but not all residents in the area are happy about slimming the four-lane road down to two lanes.
Under the proposed project, Bayless Avenue would be resurfaced from Union to Lemay Ferry Road at an estimated cost of $5 million. In addition to the new pavement, Bayless would be reduced from two driving lanes in each direction to one driving lane in each direction and a center two-way left turn lane from Avenue H to Lemay Ferry Road. On-street parking on Bayless Avenue will remain unchanged with designated parking lanes.
Studies by the Federal Highway Administration have shown that the addition of a two-way left turn lane can increase safety 20 percent by creating easier crossings for drivers and pedestrians, improving sight lines, reducing conflict points compared to a four-lane undivided roadway and reducing operating speeds, according to a project fact sheet on the St. Louis County Department of Transportation’s website.
As part of the restriping and road diet, 5-foot bicycle lanes would be added from Lemay Ferry Road west to the bridge over Gravois Creek, which would allow bicyclists to access the bike trail currently under construction east of Interstate 55.
Federal sources will cover $4 million of the $5 million project, with the remaining $1 million coming from county funds, said CDOT spokesman David Wrone.
The project has been in the works for the past three years and is slated to start in 2022 with completion sometime in 2023, said St. Louis County Planning and Programming Division Manager Ted Medler. Wrone expects construction to begin in fall 2022.
Residents asked questions and reviewed conceptual plans of the proposal with county transportation officials at an open house at the Weber Road Library in July.
“This is just a preliminary design. We want feedback, that’s the point of these town halls,” Wrone said at the open house. “We hope to finalize the plan in the next few months.”
Transportation staffers are still reviewing feedback from the July open house, along with another one held earlier in May, Wrone said last week. A specific plan has yet to be selected.
The project is just one the county is targeting for “Complete Streets” makeovers of county roads to make them more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.
A similar “road diet” and Complete Streets makeover proposed for Gravois Road in Affton in 2017 fell through after outcry from residents who didn’t want to lose two lanes to drive on Gravois.
Louis Koester, who lives on Landor Court off Bayless Avenue, said that he had heard from friends and others about a similar project and “they have all been a mess… I don’t want that … on Bayless. Don’t fix something that’s not broken.”
Another nearby resident, Linda Smith, who lives on Bella Villa Drive off Bayless, did agree that “bumpy Bayless” needed to be repaved, but said she dreaded the increased semi-truck traffic to the River City Casino once the road is resurfaced.
“Big trucks come through and shake the house and cause cracks in the walls and the foundation. Making the road more efficient is only going to make it easier for the trucks to go down. It is not built for big traffic,” said Smith. “The more traffic in the street, the more trouble with our houses.”
In addition to the repaving, road diet and bike lanes, other features of the project include Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant pedestrian features at all side street crossings and other ramp locations, and reconfiguring the intersection at Avenue H and Bayless Avenue into a four-way intersection with signals. The Bayless Avenue bridge over Gravois Creek would also be rebuilt.