Joined by Board President Megan E. Green, Board of Public Service President Rich Bradley, and multi-modal transit advocates, Mayor Tishaura O. Jones signed the St. Louis Safer Streets bill (BB120) to make the first citywide investment in road and pedestrian safety. The bill fulfills Mayor Jones’ commitment to dedicate at least $40 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to calm and redesign city streets.
“Traffic violence tears families and communities apart, and to all those who say they feel scared on our roads: I hear you,” said Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. “Parents in our city are asking ourselves: How can we teach our teenagers how to drive in a city where the rules of the road can feel more like suggestions? This bill makes a historic investment in St. Louis’ infrastructure, prioritizing road safety to help calm our streets while discouraging dangerous driving. Engineering is just one piece of road safety strategy, and the City is also exploring automated enforcement like red light cameras to help hold reckless drivers accountable when they break the law.”
St. Louis Safer Streets will improve road and pedestrian safety through a series of infrastructure projects: Implementing already completed traffic studies that have previously lacked funding; making improvements in ten dangerous, high-crash intersections; and improving main thoroughfares already set for repaving through the St. Louis Infrastructure Act signed last year (Goodfellow, Union, Jefferson, Kingshighway, and Grand). The bill also puts St. Louis on the path to its first-ever mobility and transportation master plan, moving away from a ward-by-ward traffic safety approach to a true citywide effort while opening up opportunities for federal resources currently unavailable to the city.
The investment comes after 2022 was marked the second-deadliest year in the city’s history for traffic violence, which claimed 78 lives. The previously highest year on record, 2020, saw 80 crash deaths. In 2020 nationally, 17 percent of fatal traffic crashes in the U.S. involved pedestrians. In the City of St. Louis that figure was 28 percent in 2021. The United States has had a steady increase in the number of pedestrian fatalities from 2010 to 2020. Pedestrian deaths increased by 54 percent, while all other fatalities increased by 13 percent.
“Deploying traffic calming solutions is a multi-step process: Study, design, bids, then construction,” said BPS President Rich Bradley. “Currently, the City has traffic studies in key areas that lack the funding to move forward. This bill will move these studies into the design phase. Once the designs are complete, the work is then bid out. Infrastructure work is complicated and takes time, but BPS is moving as quickly as possible towards construction of road and pedestrian safety measures.”
BPS will review the list of possible projects and locations, matching funding to move along the most impactful improvements. The design process for improvements begins in spring 2023, with designers ready to begin work. Designs will be complete by the end of this year and the first quarter of 2024. Construction will begin in 2024.
Mayor Jones also stressed that along with engineering, the city will work to improve education and enforcement around current driving laws. In 2022, SLMPD issued 8,132 speeding tickets and 2,718 tickets for signal violations. Mayor Jones has tasked city departments with exploring the operational use of red light cameras, which have been proven in other cities to reduce crashes, traffic violence, and reckless driving behavior. Any red light camera program deployed by the city would safeguard privacy, ensure due process as outlined by the Missouri Supreme Court, and be continuously assessed for effectiveness and impact on communities of color.