Last night, the Frontenac Ways & Means Committee held a public forum to discuss the options for striping Clayton Road from Spoede Rd to the city limits at Bopp Rd. The two main options being considered were to return Clayton Rd to its original 2 lanes or to keep the present 3-lane striping. After receiving the input of hundreds of residents and non-residents at the forum and via email, the committee voted to recommend returning Clayton Rd to 2 lanes. The committee will also futher investigate adding shoulders to Clayton Rd at its intersections with Bopp, Geyer, and Spoede roads for the benefit of pedestrians and bicyclists. The issue now goes before Frontenac’s Board of Alderman for final approval.
Roadway options and constraints
Prior to I-64/Highway 40 reconstruction, Clayton Rd within the city of Frontenac had been a 2-lane road with small shoulders west of Spoede Rd. To deal with the oncoming increase in traffic due to the closed highway, St. Louis County took over control of Clayton Rd in late 2007 and re-striped it with 3 narrow lanes. Now, with the December 7 reopening of I-64 on the horizon, Frontenac officials decided to look at their options for when St. Louis County returns control of Clayton Rd.
Given testimony that vehicular traffic flow was significantly better with the 3-lane configuration, the committee explored options for keeping it, albeit with a preference for wider 11-ft lanes. City officials explained that the existing concrete roadbed for Clayton Rd exists only underneath the original 2-lane driving surface: the shoulders that previously existed in the 2-lane configuration were nothing more than a thin layer of rock and asphalt. They also noted that 2 years of the 3-lane configuration have shown significant amounts of wear and tear along the edges of the roadway. Utilities and private property on both sides of the road severely restrict options for widening.
It’s not all about cars
Clayton Rd has for years been a major thoroughfare for area bicyclists. Every month, on weekends in particular, hundreds to thousands of cyclists dressed in all manners of clothing use Clayton Rd in Frontenac for their rides. Comments received prior to the public forum from the “Trailnet” community were 80% in favor of returning Clayton Rd to 2 lanes. The most important factor to cyclists was the shoulder gave them space to maneuver outside of the driving lane without being an obstacle to vehicular traffic.
That safety for cyclists on Clayton Rd was a major theme of the public forum was not a surprise; what was surprising was that safety for residents and pedestrians ended up as the most important issue of the meeting.
Many residents living on Clayton Rd spoke that ever since the road was converted to 3 lanes, they have been afraid to retrieve their mail. One resident, having had their mailbox hit 3 times in the past 2 years, mentioned that her husband kept his truck parked ever so slightly in the road to protect his family whenever they went to get the mail. Other residents spoke of having previously used Clayton Rd’s shoulder for walking and running. These same residents (and one committee member) then mentioned that they no longer walk or run on Clayton Rd because it is now too dangerous.
Given that many resident spoke that the loss of pedestrians and bicyclists on Clayton Rd was a loss to the community and the significant expense to widen the road, the committee voted in favor of returning Clayton Rd to its original two lanes. In light of the pedestrian issues brought before it, the committee also decided to further investigate the possibility of adding shoulders to Clayton Rd at its intersections with Bopp, Geyer, and Spoede roads where the entire roadway width is currently used to accommodate turn lanes.
Town & Country
Comments were made at the meeting that the city of Town & Country plans to keep Clayton Rd as 3 lanes west of Bopp Rd.