St. Louis Bill Would Pave Way for Better City Streets, Comprehensive Process

Board Bill 120 would spend $74 million in ARPA funds on safety improvements, paving and more

Nov 15, 2022 at 12:22 pm
The intersection of Spring and Grand Avenues, where a pedestrian was struck and killed last month. - Google Maps
The intersection of Spring and Grand Avenues, where a pedestrian was struck and killed last month.
A bill introduced in the St. Louis Board of Aldermen last week would allocate tens of millions in federal pandemic aid dollars to improve pedestrian and street safety.

The current version of Board Bill 120 calls for over $74 million in American Rescue Plan Funds to design and implement traffic studies, create safety improvements at 10 high-crash locations, pave arterial streets, improve sidewalks and more.

In an op-ed published in the RFT last month, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones pledged to invest at least $40 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to improve city streets after a particularly dangerous summer for cyclists and pedestrians.

At least eight people died – most from hit-and-runs. Avid cyclists in the city became so frustrated that they posted fake public notices along South Grand in October, in which they snidely urged pedestrians to wear helmets while crossing streets as city officials “consider studying” traffic violence.

Board Bill 120 marks city officials’ attempt to make good on their promise to improve street safety.

Ward 3 Alderman Brandon Bosley introduced the bill Friday. In Bosley’s own north city ward, containing the Hyde Park and Fairground neighborhoods, the alderman estimates at least 75 percent of streets need to be repaved.

St. Louis city’s current system for street repairs and improvements just doesn’t work, Bosley says.

The city has historically performed traffic studies by ward or neighborhood, with the cost of each study sourced out of a ward’s capital funds. All 28 wards receive equal portions of capital improvement funds for street improvements, regardless of need — which makes no sense for wards with greater needs, Bosley says. He believes the city needs a more comprehensive, city-wide approach.

“There are so many problems that have ensued throughout the city of St. Louis because of the lack of attention to create a holistic plan, to where everything is lopsided,” Bosley says.

Board Bill 120 would allocate money to six different city agencies that would then distribute the funds to programs outlined in the bill’s text. The Board of Public Service would receive the most — so far the bill calls for a $55 million appropriation — for programs to address ADA and traffic-calming improvements in five unspecified corridors, among other programs.

“I’m hopeful that we can create some sort of better plan, because I’m not the only alderman who’s said this — we need to have more of a comprehensive plan on how we replace streets,” Bosley says.

Board Bill 120 has been referred to the Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee. No hearing date has been set yet.

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