ST. LOUIS — Road blockages are back up on one downtown St. Louis street on the weekends and some said safety measure was bad for business on Tuesday.
Sergeant Charles Wells, with the St. Louis Metro Police Department, told 5 On Your Side they will close Washington Avenue to vehicular traffic at night on the weekends between 11th and Tucker and Tucker and 14th from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday through Sunday. He stressed it was to ensure pedestrian safety.
Officials added the closures were something they have been doing since 2020 and data showed reckless driving and traffic offenses occurred more on weekends during the warmer months.
It is not the kind of welcome Nichol Stevenson imagined for her patrons when she first opened House of Soul at the corner of Washington Avenue and Tucker six years ago.
“I feel like I'm the queen of opening and closing, OK?! We've been through a lot since the pandemic. We closed our business down. We reopened,” she said.
For the last three weeks, there are road barriers that have made getting to her DJ and live entertainment space difficult for customers. She expressed that she went from serving hundreds in a weekend to less than 50 guests.
“Most of the construction is going on during the daytime. They are blocking the streets off after 8 so the traffic cannot access Washington Avenue.”
Tanner Tucker, chair of the Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA) Safety Committee, said the measures were the work of a few groups, including his own group, the St. Louis Metro Police Department, and the Community Improvement District to keep things civil.
"To come up with a way that works for both businesses and residents in the neighborhood to reduce some of the cruising and loud early into the morning behavior that happens along that 1300-1400 strip of Washington,” Tucker said.
Tucker recognized how bad the barriers can be for both business and visibility.
“Putting two sheriff's deputies on either side of the block blocking the street with their lights going. It looks like a crime scene. That's not the best way we can close the street.”
Stevenson and Tanner threw out other alternatives.
“Maybe with a barricade or maybe we can leave the street open and have some street calming measures such as curb bump outs or others creative solutions that the city, the city and DNA can come to together,” Tucker said.
“Have more police officers present, walking, [or] on the scooter ... besides blocking out blocks,” Stevenson added.
David Shanks, the owner of Whisky on Washington, had a different perspective and said that “with ongoing support from the sheriff's office, new police chief and mayor are making Wash Ave. a better and safer place."
A SLMPD spokesperson said in part "We have worked to determine the best possible way to ensure the safety of all while creating minimum impact to the surrounding businesses."
Officials said surrounding streets, including Tucker Boulevard, will remain open for vehicle traffic as well as parking.
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