Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Compton Avenue Balls Get (Temporary) Reinforcements

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2018 at 10:01 AM

click to enlarge SARAH FENSKE
The traffic-calming balls that have riled up south city have been girded with reinforcements.

The concrete spheres — alternatively known as Slay Balls after the former mayor or Ingrassia Balls after the alderwoman whose ward commissioned them — have been given companions: They're now accompanied by tall, thin bollards that create higher visibility and encourage drivers to pay attention.

The bollards are temporary, but they accompany a permanent change: Some of the balls that have been hit most frequently were uprooted yesterday, says Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia. They were then installed in new spots set back a bit further from the intersection.

The work didn't entail any additional expenditures, Ingrassia says.

"The overall project is still doing what it's intended to do, but still tweaking," she says. She says they'll be looking at data to assess its efficacy in the coming months. The bollards, she says, should be up for no more than three months.

The balls were first installed at six intersection on Compton Avenue last December after a lengthy "participatory budgeting" process involving Tower Grove East residents. The $325,000 ball project was aimed at discouraging trucks from using the street and getting everyone else to slow down.

But even as the balls have become something of a blank canvas for local artists, they've also proven that some drivers just won't slow down no matter what's in the way. Balls have been hit, scuffed and knocked off their bases.

And indeed, even this morning, on the first dawn since the bollards were put in place, we spied a ball at Compton and Shenandoah that had clearly suffered a rough night. Whether it was related to the process of moving or just another careless car wasn't immediately clear.

This weekend, the neighborhood plans to fete the balls at a party this Saturday. It'll also unveil decorations on four of the balls at Compton and Shenandoah, with designs judged by a neighborhood committee. But though the winners were chosen earlier this month, we can't help but think the damaged ball we spotted this morning could prove a great jumping-off point. Doesn't it kind of look like the Death Star?

click to enlarge SARAH FENSKE

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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