Police Chief Matt Mansell said the Missouri Transportation Department will not lower the speed limit on a stretch of Route 66 that local officials feel is dangerous.
Speaking at the May 7 board meeting, Mansell told aldermen that he and eight other individuals signed a letter to MoDOT requesting that the speed limit be lowered from 55 mph to 45 mph between Six Flags and the Red Cedar Inn.
Petitioners included Karen Yeomans, area engineer, southwest St. Louis County; Sean M. Flower, Eureka mayor; Chief Steve Sagehorn, Pacific Fire Protection District; Dr. Eric Knost, Rockwood School District superintendent; Tim Michel, ADB Companies Inc. safety director; Jennifer Sachse, Missouri Department of Corrections warden; Brian Palecek, Travers Autoplex & RV Center general manager; and Dustin Darrah, Darrah Contracting Inc.
Mansell said the petitioners are particularly concerned about the area near Hill View Drive where the new ADB Companies plant had increased traffic entering and leaving Route 66.
Thomas Blair, MoDOT district engineer, notified Eureka Fire Chief Greg Brown in an April 30 letter that the request for a lower speed limit is being denied.
Blair said speed limits along state roads are set based on several factors, including the speed at which the majority of people drive, if there are curves and hills, and the number of fatal and disabling crashes along a roadway.
“Most people will drive at a speed at which they are comfortable despite the posted speed limit,” he stated. “If the posted speed limit is lower than the average speed, this can create a larger disparity in the speeds at which most people drive and ultimately be a safety hazard. On Business Loop 44 (Route 66) we have conducted several speed studies which all have shown that the recommended speed limit should remain at 55 mph.”
Blair said one safety measure would be added to the roadway.
“Later this year, we have a project to resurface the road from the Franklin County line to Six Flags Road,” he said. “At that time, we plan to include a centerline rumble strip along the road. This will alert drivers when they start to drift across lanes.”
Blair also said MoDOT plans to conduct a new speed study on that stretch of roadway.
“Based on the recent inquiry from Dustin Darrah with Darrah Contracting, we have started the process to complete a new speed study,” he said. “These studies can take several months to complete. Once we have the study completed, we will share that information with you.”
Mansell said local emergency agencies were disappointed in MoDOT’s conclusion and planned to stay in contact with the agency.
“They need to do something else,” Mansell said. “We believe the speed limit should be 45 mph.”