Safety inspections on Natural Bridge Road

ST. LOUIS – A lethal stretch of road in north St. Louis is getting some much-needed attention.

The United States Department of Transportation, the Missouri Department of Transportation, the City of St. Louis Street Department, the Missouri Highway Patrol, and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department have been conducting a road safety audit in north St. Louis this week.

State Representative Joshua Peters (D) and St. Louis alderpersons Brandon Bosley, John Collins Muhammad, Jeffrey Boyd, and Sharon Tyus have been physically walking the Natural Bridge corridor within city limits.

During this physical walking tour, the officials took note of sidewalk and street conditions, and ADA accessibility.

Muhammad said Natural Bridge has earned a reputation for being dangerous because of a deadly four-mile stretch of road.

"People are just comfortable speeding," Muhammad said. "I don't know why. I think it's a cultural problem and I think people just have no respect for human life."

MoDOT area engineer Michelle Forneris said that particular road has four to seven times more crashes than on a road that is of a similar design.

Twenty-one crashes, four of which were fatal, have occurred alone this year. That includes a 2-year-old thrown out of a car during a crash and high-profile case involving a grandmother who was run over while she tried to cross the road.

"We are concerned, we are reviewing what is going on in this corridor from the crashes to the speeds,” Forneris said. "Speeds; we know from the data side of things that we have much higher speeds than the posted speed limits of 35 miles an hour."

Muhammad said that several ideas are being considered that could help slow down speeders.

"Redoing just the basic infrastructure, whether it is re-stripping Natural Bridge, repaving, putting police on the streets," he said.

Meanwhile, Peters said that part of the area is close to his heart since that's where he grew up and wants to do what he can to come up with a solution.

"I'm going to be full force behind this," said Peters. "Of course, there are budget restraints, but again we are working to make sure we get those funds allocated."

Muhammad said that another possible solution to reducing the danger along the road might be to make it a little more difficult to obtain a driver's license, issue more traffic tickets, and increased fines.