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St. Louis mayor proposes $40M to make streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists

Eleven pedestrians and two bicyclists have died this year on city streets. The mayor wants to use $40 million in ARPA funds to get drivers to slow down.

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones wants to pour $40 million into making city streets safer.

She wants to use COVID-19 relief funds to make drivers slow down to better protect bicyclists and pedestrians. After one too many crashes, some of them deadly, both city leaders and many residents are saying enough is enough.

On any given day, you can see children playing outside in St. Louis neighborhoods. Too often, they have to compete with traffic.

"We couldn't let them out here unless I had all my cars parked right here to make sure nobody jumped the curb and hit them,” parent Kendra Trotter said of her front yard.

Her 10- and 8-year-olds play in front of their homes with their young cousin near Dayton Street and Glasgow Avenue on the north side.

Trotter has lived there for nine years now.

"They flew up and down the street all the time and didn't nobody slow down,” she said.

In the past couple of years, the city put up a neighborhood traffic circle and speed bumps.

Trotter said it's helped a little. 

"They just fly around the sides of it and keep going or they fly over it real hard and keep going," she said.

City officials say every little bit helps.

"You can see over there, there's also a speed hump so that slows them down as they also approach the traffic circle,” Grace Kyung, with the City of St. Louis, said pointing to the traffic calming measures.

She said Jones wants to look at a combination of these traffic measures all across the city, including raised intersections and curb extensions.

"A curb extension is where the curb is extended a little further so it shortens the distance for an individual to cross the street,” Kyung explained.

It comes after 11 pedestrians and two bicyclists have died this year on city streets. One of the most notable incidents was when a 17-year-old was struck and killed outside of Ted Drewes by a hit-and-run driver.

The mayor wants to use $40 million dollars in ARPA funds to get drivers to slow down.

"How are you going to decide where this stuff goes and when?” 5 On Your Side asked Kyung.

“At the moment, we’re focused on the legislative process and through that, we'll be able to determine where different improvements can be made,” she said.

That means the Board of Aldermen will have to agree with the mayor to make these investments happen. Each project usually needs a traffic study, which the city has to pay for before the work is done. The mayor is hoping some of the work can be sped up by putting dollars towards projects where studies have already been done.

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