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Monday, May 15, 2017

Kingshighway Workers Pave Around Single Parked Car, Because St. Louis

Posted By on Mon, May 15, 2017 at 10:07 AM

click to enlarge A lot of oops happening here. - IMAGE VIA GASLIGHT STL/INSTAGRAM
  • Image via Gaslight STL/Instagram
  • A lot of oops happening here.

On Saturday, to the joy of St. Louis commuters, the Kingshighway bridge rumbled with the sounds of regular street traffic for the first time in 22 months. As we noted last week, the bridge's reopening required a buzzer-beating effort by city workers, who apparently were still laying down asphalt as late as Saturday morning.

Only... they missed a spot. A car-shaped spot.

Indeed, it appears that at some point Saturday morning, workers paving a portion of Shaw Avenue near the north end of the bridge were confronted with an unexpected obstruction in the road: A blue Kia hatchback. But the car was in fact parked legally — somehow, not a single person had thought to put up "no parking" signs before the final push of the massive construction effort. And that, apparently, ruled out calling a tow truck.

So, in an example of classical engineering elegance, the workers simply paved around the Kia, leaving the vehicle on a sunken rectangular island.

The workers' literal workaround — first publicized in the tweet above by St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer Robert Cohen — lit up Twitter and the St. Louis subreddit, with reactions ranging from accusing the car's driver of being an asshole to the obligatory "ONLY IN STL AMIRITE?"

The sight of the lone car also caught JB Anderson off guard. The co-owner of Gaslight, a hybrid bar/recording studio, Anderson showed up to work Saturday morning and says he initially didn't notice anything odd about vehicle parked across the street. Then he did a double-take.

"I looked at it, and it’s just so indicative of the project," says Anderson. Having opened Gaslight in March 2016, the bridge construction has been a consistently frustrating fact of life for his business, particularly in the past two months, when the work turned the stretch of Shaw into "a cul-de-sac."

"The paving company was probably on a fire drill to get it done before Saturday morning," Anderson says.

Just a few hours later, not long after Mayor Lyda Krewson led a procession along the mostly-completed bridge, the Kia's driver, a woman, reappeared.

"My guess is that it was a patron of our bar who couldn’t drive, didn’t want to drive, whatever it might have been," Anderson says. "A guy dropped her off, pulled up in front of the car, and she kind of got out and stared at it. Then she drove away in what appeared to be mild embarrassment."

Yeah, that's a fair reaction. We'd probably do the same.

As of Sunday afternoon, the slab of road remained unpaved. Never change, St. Louis.

Update 4:30 pm: St. Louis is a small town, and only a few hours after this story was published we got an email from none other than the driver of the blue Kia. The woman, who asked to remain nameless, added a few crucial details to this tale of roadwork gone awry.

First of all, she wants everyone to know that she wasn't too drunk to drive, and this wasn't a "walk of shame" situation. What really happened Friday night was far less dramatic.

"I was flying back from a trip and my plane was delayed, and I was supposed to meet my boyfriend and some friends for drinks. We took separate cars because I was coming straight from the airport," she says.

As mentioned before, the street bore no signage to warn motorists that the area was due for a fresh coat of asphalt the next morning. "I actually asked a couple of people walking by if this was actually a parking spot," she says. (See? It turns out this is a good citizen, and not, as one poster in the St. Louis subreddit suggested, an asshole.)

When she and her boyfriend decided to leave later that evening, they decided to simplify their travel by taking one car.

"We do that all the time in St. Louis; just leave your car, come back the next day," she says. "It's not a big deal."

Of course, when her boyfriend drove her back to Gaslight on Saturday to retrieve her car, they finally saw what the construction workers had wrought.

"We were both like, ‘This is ridiculous, this would only happen in St. Louis,'" she says. "Obviously, I wouldn’t have parked there if there would have been a sign. That they would not even take the time to block off the street, or put up a sign saying, ‘We’re paving the road!’ — and instead they would just pave around an entire vehicle? It’s just absurd."

No arguments here.

click to enlarge One woman's parking spot, immortalized (for now) by a head-scratching asphalt-laying job. - PHOTO BY DANNY WICENTOWSKI
  • Photo by Danny Wicentowski
  • One woman's parking spot, immortalized (for now) by a head-scratching asphalt-laying job.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at

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