Residents and city council debate bike and walking path in Des Peres

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DES PERES, MO (KPLR) - There are big concerns about a proposed new network of trails and bike paths in Des Peres near and along roads that are among the busiest in St. Louis County.

The proposal initially included a new pedestrian and bike bridge over Interstate 270.

The Des Peres Board of Aldermen held a public hearing Monday night on a proposal from Trailnet.  The mayor made clear before the hearing that there would be no bridge over 270; it was no longer part of the plan.

The proposal still includes everything from new speed bumps and street markings to fancy bike and walking paths.  There was a big crowd with about 120 people spilling into the hallways and even sitting on the floor.

Without the bridge the proposed $11.2 million is $2.7 million worth of bike paths along busy roads like Manchester and Ballas and so-called ‘Neighborhood Greenways' through subdivisions.   Greenways could include those speed bumps.

A woman walking through a neighborhood off of Bopp Road told FOX 2, “the sidewalks work fine.”

Residents seemed to favor improvements to make Des Peres more bike and pedestrian friendly in a recent survey, the mayor said.

Marielle:

“This is a 15-year long-term plan.  It`s not something that`s going to happen tomorrow.  If anything is going to get built, this is how we prioritize it,” Marielle Brown of Trailnet told residents after giving a detailed outline of the changes.

“Whenever you introduce bike paths, even just trails, you introduce people, you introduce noise, you introduce trash.  It`s just unavoidable.  In my opinion it would change the character of Des Peres and I`m opposed to it,” said resident, Steve Disch.

“My family and I bicycle all the time.  We like to walk.  Daugherty Ferry is extremely dangerous.  I`m glad that there`s a plan in place to make that safer for us,” countered resident, Christ Potthast.  “I understand people don`t want traffic in their back yards.  I get that.  But for some of these larger roads, where we can just bicycle and walk, it needs to be safe for myself, my husband and my son and daughter.”

Fr. Thomas Molini, priest and pastor at St. Gerard Majella Catholic Church and School, was concerned about removing turn lanes and adding bike lanes at Ballas and Daugherty Ferry at the Des Peres – Kirkwood border.  The school and church are on the Kirkwood side.

“That would be, frankly, a little disastrous is you were there any morning between 7:15 and 8:00 on any school day,” he said.

Changes would be phased in as streets are repaired and resurfaced, Brown said.

They would be funded 20% by Des Peres and 80% by Trailnet's sources which included federal and private grants.

There was no vote Monday night.