ST. LOUIS — It’s that time of year: The hot and cold temps we’ve been having are a breeding ground for potholes. But viewers told 5 On Your Side it’s not just potholes, and road problems have gotten out of hand.
For Brandon Reid, driving to work in downtown St. Louis is an obstacle course.
“It's beyond frustrating because I can't afford it," Reid said.
He said he's on a mission to avoid potholes that have cost him over $600 in the last two months.
“You can kind of see the damage that's done, just to that rim," Reid said. “Nobody can afford to keep putting tires on every other week.”
“Do you take a longer commute now to work just to avoid these potholes?” Senior Investigative Reporter Paula Vasan asked.
“Absolutely," Reid said. "At least 15 minutes longer.”
St. Louis City mayor Tishaura Jones told us in a recent interview: “Potholes are being filled … City services are being completed.”
Reid didn’t see that happening. So, he posted about his driving drama on Facebook and tagged the mayor.
“The next day I woke up, she unfriended me on Facebook," he said. “This is a problem.”
So we delved into the issue with a survey.
Breakdown of survey results
We asked our viewers about the worst roads in the St. Louis area. In one week, we got more than 1,200 responses about some major headaches.
Potholes were by far the biggest complaints, totaling 90% of all responses. More than half also complained of speeding, on our city and county roads, and especially our highways. The next biggest issues are disobeying traffic signals, congestion, narrow lanes, unsafe pedestrian crossings and confusing design.
Here's how the responses break down:
- Potholes and crumbling pavement mentioned 1,144 out of 1,273 (89.8%).
- Speeding mentioned 684 (53.7%).
- Disobeying traffic signals: 466 (36.6%).
- Traffic congestion: 429 (33.7%).
- Narrow lanes mentioned 423 (33.2%).
- Unsafe pedestrian crossing: 363 (28.5%).
- Confusing design: 184 (14.5%).
Take Airport Road in Berkeley, Missouri. Ebony Bond complains, “The potholes messed up my shocks …” Larry Slaughter writes “Horrible.” And Lala Brag writes, “The roadway is full of potholes.”
Describing Interstate 270 near West County Mall, one viewer writes “I hit a pothole, had two flat tires and needed a tow and realignment. I called it the $1,000 pothole.”
And we have lots of complaints about Big Bend Road in Kirkwood, Missouri, about everything from crumbling pavement to speeding. Diane Carson writes: “Pedestrians and drivers are at serious risk.” Another frustrated driver writes, “Very unsafe, especially for kids trying to cross to a nearby elementary school.”
Our survey also shows speeding is a big problem on both our highways and roads. About Grand Boulevard in St. Louis City, one viewer writes, “Illegal street racing in the summer is an issue.”
In April, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page held a news briefing on road construction season and projects underway or planned for this year. About potholes, he said: “On average, our road crews fill 15,000 potholes a year. Potholes are an issue we hear a lot about, and we understand. The four seasons are nice, but the seesaw in weather wreaks havoc on our roads.”
We wanted to ask city and county officials about what they're doing to fix our roads. They didn’t agree to an in-person interview about our survey. We talked with the Missouri Department of Transportation's Tom Blair.
“So 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we have team members out taking care of and operating the system," said Blair, a district engineer with MoDOT.
His department tracks the most heavily trafficked roads in our area, mainly our highways.
“In general, 85% of our major roads are in good condition in the state of Missouri," he said.
“How are you prioritizing what roads get fixed when?” Vasan asked.
“We are always inspecting our roads …“ he said. “Priorities can be established by citizens when they call us.”
Reid said he’s doing his part as a citizen, and he wants our government to step it up, too.
“I duly pay my taxes, including my property taxes and all this," he said. "I think the expectation as a taxpayer is that these roads will be taken care of. That's not happening. So where's all my money going?”
We’ve shared the results of our survey -- without personal information -- with the city, county and state. The goal: to help inform and prioritize their fixes.
MoDOT provided the following statement in response:
In general, the survey data confirms that transportation corridors are important and highlights the top concerns from citizens regardless of the roadways they travel in the region.
These responses support decisions MoDOT has made regarding prioritizing maintenance and reconstruction work on transportation corridors and the more than $400 million dollars of work that will be completed in the St. Louis region this year – which to date includes more than $1 million and 16,000-hours repairing potholes.
It is good to connect citizens with the government agencies responsible for each transportation concern. Most of these government agencies have team members dedicated to such customer service and prioritization of work tasks/projects. Concerns about MoDOT roadways can be submitted to our customer service team 24 hours a day at 1-888-ASK-MoDOT or online at https://www.modot.org/stlouis.
How to file an official complaint
To complain about city roads, you can call the City of St. Louis Citizens Service Bureau at 314-622-4800 or submit a request online. To report a St. Louis County pothole issue, call 314-615-8538.
To complain about state-run roads, like highways, call MoDOT at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636) or email the department email directly via its website.
Thank you to the more than 1,200 of you who contributed to the survey. This is a topic we’ll continue investigating.
If you have a tip, email Paula Vasan directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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