Opinion: Welcome to the land in which our major roads are consistently busy as a result of poor traffic planning, and sometimes unnecessary redevelopment surrounding a major interstate which has been redone; only to find out that two years after completion, the interstate probably will have to be expanded with nearby interchanges being redone. I'm talking about Atlanta right? You know that city where the downtown junction (Interstates 75 and 85) is backed up for half the day, where the Interstate 285/Interstate 85 interchange is notoriously known as Spaghetti Junction for its confusing ramps and bad traffic, where driving down Peachtree Street makes being stuck on Manchester Road in West County seem like a smooth ride? Seriously you would think that I am talking about Atlanta considering that local, county, and state officials are consistently expanding their roadways and interstates on a regular basis there. In fact, the traffic situation is so bad in Atlanta, that voters in a 10 county area in North Georgia are voting today on a 1% regional sales tax increase to fund future transportation projects. (Dear Atlanta, good luck with that).
The city that I am talking about is Richmond Heights, Missouri. Actually much of the blame for the situation that I described above should go to other Mid-County communities as well: Brentwood, and Maplewood, should share the blame.
The city of Richmond Heights wants develop Hadley Heights, and had been trying to do so for nearly a decade. This includes developing a Menards, a hardware store similar to other brick and mortar stores in the area. Last time I checked, Home Depot is on the Brentwood side of Hanley Road, and Lowe’s is literally a hop scotch away in Maplewood. Even after Interstate 64 was rebuilt, the congestion has actually been worse, as some of the old bottlenecks have resumed between Brentwood and McCausland Avenue. The Missouri Department of Transportation wanted to expand Interstate 64 to eight lanes in Richmond Heights, but relented when the city threatened a lawsuit as it found that a certain number of homes slated to be demolished to be unacceptable (it’s funny how Richmond Heights will fight to essentially keep Interstate 64 congested all day, but will not hesitate to take peoples’ homes in other parts of the city. C&C Music Factory had a song to describe this conundrum).
Brentwood shares the blame in this traffic and development mess by intentionally building the Promenade to prevent the extension of Interstate 170 into South County, thus forcing tens of thousands of drivers to endure long commutes driving down Big Bend Boulevard, Hanley, and Brentwood.
Maplewood (and to an extent Richmond Heights) share blame as none of these cities have adequately come up with a way to improve traffic movements on Hanley Road from Interstate 64 to Interstate 44. Maplewood has allowed for development to cause an increase in traffic along Hanley, and continues to allow development to occur without a long term view on what is needed to relieve traffic (i.e., widening Hanley Road, making Hanley Road a parkway, instituting Michigan Lefts, etc.).
Why I am specifically calling out Richmond Heights in terms of traffic problems surrounding new developing projects in Mid County? Two major interstates and Hanley Road go through the city. The traffic is already bad along Hanley Road and the surrounding area. It’s so bad that Hanley Road at times is congested even on Sundays, as many commuters head to Maplewood Commons or shopping centers in Brentwood. What did the city expect would happen to traffic along Hanley Road, Interstate 64 and Interstate 170 once the new development is built? A pot of gold at the end of a rainbow as traffic flows freely through the area? I know that Hanley Road is owned by St. Louis County; however, I hope the communities of Richmond Heights and Maplewood collaborates with the county and fixes its Hanley Road problem soon and fast, or Mid County will have its own version of Peachtree Street very soon.