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Geyer Road Challenges Draw Council's Attention

Kirkwood Council seeks remedy, agrees to spend $15,000 toward traffic study

Looking south on South Geyer Road from Forest Glen Lane. photo by Diana Linsley.

July 14, 2017
For 20 months, the Kirkwood City Council has been grappling with the conundrum on South Geyer Road of too many cars (more than 10,000 a day) driving too close to too many single-family homes.

The city council voted in its work session meeting July 6 to spend just under $15,000 for an outside traffic engineering study of the roadway with an eye toward still another remedy to the problem — the third to be attempted, each having been progressively more restrictive to traffic.

The new solution would be an overhead, pedestrian-activated flashing red signal called a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB) standing over the middle of the roadway, supported by a cantilevered arm extending from a steel pole on the shoulder.

The new light would replace a flashing yellow signal, also pedestrian-activated, that was installed last fall on the side of the Geyer right-of-way at Windsor Lane.

The flashing yellow signal itself was a replacement for the first solution to be tried: two stop signs erected, supposedly for a 90-day trial, in December 2015. Though some Geyer area residents were pleased that the signs slowed traffic, a larger number of neighbors complained bitterly that drivers merely slowed down for the signs, never actually stopping.

Drivers "rolling" the stop signs created an uninterrupted stream of traffic that trapped residents in their own driveways and made it impossible to turn safely onto Geyer from a side street, opponents of the stop signs said.

So the stop signs were replaced by the flashing yellow signal in October 2016. That quelled complaints for several months, but emotions were rekindled in mid-May when a 13-year-old girl was struck by a car while crossing Geyer at Oakshire Lane near the new flashing signal.

A number of perturbed residents from the Geyer neighborhood, including the young girl's father, came to the May 18 council meeting with examples of how the new flashing yellow signal had failed to improve pedestrian safety, or moderate traffic at all.

Further, the lack of sidewalks on

the east side of Geyer, south of the signal, discourages pedestrians wishing to cross west-to-east from using the signal, residents said. Many seeking to cross to the

east side of

Geyer, especially adolescents, use the sidewalks on the west side, then cross at a point away from the signal, but near their destination, neighbors told the council.

The new traffic study will be done in the fall when traffic returns to its usual volume as the nearby St. Louis Community College at Meramec goes back into session and the repairs to the Big Bend Road bridge over Interstate 270 are completed.

"We don't want an anomaly in the data" taken for the traffic study, Public Services Director Bill Bensing told the council. If the council chooses to install a PHB signal, that work would come later in the fall following the study, Bensing said.

Bensing also recommended sidewalks be installed on the east side of Geyer, from the present termination point just north of Forest Glen Lane south to Oakshire Lane.

Some council members expressed a preference to skip the engineers' report and move on to the installation of a PHB, since that appears to be the likely outcome in any case. Council Member Paul Ward suggested also considering a full-scale solution, including condemnation of right-of-way to provide sidewalks with setbacks consistent with those implemented decades ago on Geyer Road north of Big Bend Road.

"Let's do it right," said Ward.

Mayor Tim Griffin advocated a more graduated approach.

"Why don't we get another set of eyes to take a look at it? Let's go ahead and get that other set of eyes, pursue the sidewalks, and ultimately we can still make a different decision if we want," Griffin said.

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