Community leaders discuss Hampton traffic study

by Chip Kastner

On October 27, a neighborhood Zoom meeting was held to discuss a Hampton corridor traffic study that was performed in 2019 by the Lochmueller Group. Ward 16 Alderman Tom Oldenburg, Ward 12 Alderman Vicky Grass, Brenna Brown of the CIty of St. Louis Board of Public Service, and Katy Shackelford and Chris Beard of the Lochmueller Group led the meeting, which drew approximately one hundred attendees.

Alderman Oldenburg opened the meeting with an observation that the majority of complaints he receives as alderman are traffic and speeding related, and the complaints tend to cluster around Hampton Avenue.  After consulting with citizens and businesses along the Hampton corridor between Gravois and Chippewa, a reduction in lanes on Hampton was proposed.  A lane reduction, also known as a road diet, has been successful in other areas such as South Grand and on Arsenal Street along Tower Grove Park.  Reducing vehicle traffic can have a positive impact on businesses along Hampton, and improve the walkability of the neighborhood by making Hampton safer to cross.

The Lochmueller Group was commissioned to perform a traffic study of Hampton Avenue between Chippewa and Gravois to determine the impact of reducing the number of lanes along most of the route.  The study, performed in 2019, evaluated the impact of reducing the lanes on a section of Hampton from two in each direction to one in each direction, with a turn lane running the length of the section.  The space saved would be used to expand the curb, extend the bike lane that currently runs between Jamieson and Loughborough, and provide two extra feet for parked vehicles north of Jamieson.

Notably, the busy intersections at Chippewa and Gravois would not be altered, and two lanes of traffic in each direction would be preserved north of Bancroft (along Hampton Village) and south of the entrance to Willmore Park.  Streetside parking along Willmore Park, which is currently sparsely used, would be replaced with a dedicated bike lane.

The traffic study, which was performed in February and March of 2019, found that a lane reduction would reduce traffic speeds by 5 mph on average.  Line of sight would be increased at intersections, and pedestrian crossing distances would be reduced.  This would be accompanied by an expected 29 percent reduction in crashes, and a 37 percent reduction in injury-causing crashes.  The reduced lanes would also be expected to make street racing along Hampton more difficult.  Overall, the slower traffic would provide a more welcoming environment for pedestrians and bicyclists, and make it easier to get in and out of cars parked on the street.

On the other hand, the inability to pass slower-moving traffic may create perceptions of increased congestion.  Longer lines at traffic signals would also be expected, particularly at the Nottingham and Eichelberger intersections.  However, the six traffic signals between (but not including) Chippewa and Gravois would be adjusted to optimize traffic flow through the corridor and clear most lined-up cars within a single green light.  The time required to drive through the corridor during peak hours should be minimally impacted.

Additionally, it would be expected that anywhere between 2% and 15% of traffic that currently utilizes Hampton would take alternate routes, primarily Jamieson, Macklind and Kingshighway.  Alderman Oldenburg expressed support for a traffic study to address problems currently reported regarding traffic on Jamieson, and for other measures to mitigate any traffic diversions that may occur.

The project, if implemented, would cost between $210,500 and one million dollars.  The least expensive version of the project would simply apply pavement markings and bollards (posts) to delineate the new vehicle lanes, bicycle lanes and curbs.  More expensive options would include curb bumpouts, longer-lasting paint, ADA-compliant pedestrian signals, and upgrades to the intersection of Hampton and Jamieson.

Aldermen Oldenburg and Grass have already secured funding to resurface Hampton.  If the lane reduction is implemented, it would likely be tied to the resurfacing project, which will start no earlier than Spring 2021.

The aldermen expect to continue with community engagement in order to determine whether the changes are desired by the community. Questions may be directed to Brenna Brown of the CIty of St. Louis Board of Public Service at brownbr@stlouis-mo.gov or (314) 589-6637.  The complete traffic study may be downloaded at https://stlhills.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Hampton-Corridor-Traffic-Study-Final.pdf.

If you weren’t able to make the Live Zoom Meeting – “Lochmueller Discussion on the Hampton Corridor Traffic Study”, on 10/27/2020 here is the link via YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkS-UsSdo2Q&feature=youtu.be     

This study was completed and presented by the Lochmueller Group. The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility of reducing traffic lanes along Hampton Avenue between Chippewa Street and Gravois Avenue. Thanks to everyone who did join the meeting a great turn-out was had. If you have comments, thoughts, suggestions, please contact Alderperson Tom Oldenburg (oldenburgt@stlouis-mo.gov) and City of St. Louis Civil Engineer – Brenna Brown (brownbr@stlouis-mo.gov)