MoDOT official discusses Gravois corridor at Grantwood Village meeting

By Kari Williams

Missouri Department of Transportation officials are searching for “the correct solution that everyone can live with” relating to two developments along Gravois and Musick roads, according to Michelle Voegele, area engineer for the department.

Voegele recently addressed the two developments during a Grantwood Village Board of Trustees meeting.

A 52.2-acre development for 124 single-family residences is under construction at Gravois and Musick roads. The new location for the St. Louis County Library’s existing Tesson Ferry Branch also will be on a 4.29-acre site along Gravois and Musick roads.

Voegele, an area engineer for south and west St. Louis County, said the Missouri Department of Transportation, or MoDOT, has reviewed a traffic study the housing developer and library provided. Cor Jesu Academy, 10230 Gravois Road, is also funding a traffic study covering Musick to Laclede Station roads.

MoDOT, according to Voegele, is looking at “different options” that will alleviate problems for all involved parties.

“In the world of traffic engineering, just putting in another signal is not going to solve the problem …,” she said. “If you put the traffic signal that benefits you at your driveway, well then that causes a safety problem for the school. What are the trade-offs? If the school gets a traffic signal, well that definitely closes off your access.”

Voegele said MoDOT made recommendations to the developers relating to Gravois Road, specifically adding an exclusive, west-bound left-turn lane. Though Voegel said MoDOT is “always looking for funding avenues,” money is not currently “solidified.” But she said it is on the top of her “priority list for congestion and relief.”

“We are not the permitting agency, so they are not putting in improvements along Gravois,” she said. “I do recognize that there is a big need for that, but as far as funding, I don’t have the money as far as MoDOT resources to fund that component.”

However, the housing developer, McBride & Son, and the library, according to Voegele, are in the process of giving MoDOT right-of-way dedication.

A traffic study was conducted in 2007, according to Voegele, which has been updated to account for both developments.

“That study was updated with current traffic counts and current crash histories and what was taking place in planning and zoning in that time, the number of households, what type of development would go in on the corner and stuff like that so we made them update that whole study,” she said.

Resident and former Trustee Walter Rust said it “always seems” like traffic counts are conducted when Grant’s Farm is not open and questioned how the study is adjusted for the “extremely large increase of traffic” that Grant’s Farm generates.

Voegele said MoDOT can “compare back” to historical counts on the Gravois Road corridor, as well as apply certain factors.

“We have different factors, both seasonally and daily, that get applied to those numbers before we settle on what’s the magic number,” she said, “and typically when we design the roadways we don’t do it for those big traffic generators.”

Voegele also said MoDOT works closely with the St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic, which is looking to make updates to Musick Road in 2015-2016, “in combination with that development that’s going in.”

For example, Voegele said highway ramps near Busch Stadium are not designed for baseball traffic, but for morning and late afternoon peak hours.

Resident Genny Webelhuth questioned what the possibility would be of putting “an exit over the bike trail onto Grant Road.”

“It would really solve a lot of problems for the residents in old Grantwood,” she said, “and I’m sure it would cost a lot of money and I know bike trail people would not like cars going over their bike trail, but other people have to cross over it, so I’m thinking maybe it’s justified and maybe it could be affordable.”

Though Voegele said MoDOT has no interest on Grant Road, the village would have to work with St. Louis County and Great Rivers Greenway to determine “what sort of access can you obtain over the trail.”

“I would say with the high volume of users on that trail, you’re going to have to grade separate, so the cars are going to have to be over or under,” she said. “They probably wouldn’t want you coming right across that trail and that’s going to get costly.”