Traffic on the New I-64: Worse Than it Was Before?

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Were you headed eastbound on Highway 40 last night during rush hour? If so, then you know it was a slow and painful slog, especially east of Kingshighway where the road narrows for the exit only lanes. It was even bumper-to-bumper at the Poplar Street Bridge.

So what gives? Wasn't two years of non-stop construction supposed to fix every one of our fair city's traffic woes?

According to the latest from MODOT, traffic was a breeze on all the thoroughfares that used to serve as detours but a nightmare at times on the shiny new stretch of freeway.

The jams occurred because nearly twice as many people chose the new route than did before the re-build.

Writes MODOT:
Motorists have returned to Interstate 64 and the volumes on the first full day of the reopening and second morning were greater than before the reconstruction started. Regional alternate routes have also seen reductions in the traffic that has detoured to them for the past two years.

"We have twice as many people using I-64 now than we did three years ago," said MoDOT I-64 Project Director Lesley Hoffarth. "Obviously everyone is trying out the new highway. The other interstates and alternate roads around the region are flowing at or near the speed limit during the rush hours. We advise people to spread out which roads they are using and avoid the peak times of 7:30-8:30 a.m. and 4:30-5:30 p.m."

During the evening rush last night had free flow traffic on southbound I-270 from I-64 to I-44 and on eastbound I-70 to the Poplar Street Bridge. In contrast, eastbound I-64 was heavily congested from Kingshighway to the Poplar Street Bridge.

Traffic on the arterial roads was down on all major alternate routes, including Page, Olive and Manchester. Forest Park Parkway volumes were less than before the I-64 construction started, which is a 50-60 percent reduction in volume compared to last month.

Traffic engineers continue to monitor intersections on the key arterials to make adjustments to them but old traffic patterns have returned. Major congested intersections in the evening rush include Lindbergh at Clayton and Hampton at I-44. During the morning rush, the congested locations were at Kingshighway from I-44 to I-64 and Lindbergh from I-64 north to Ladue Road.
Granted, traffic as a whole was down (especially west bound in the morning, and on the east-west city streets) and the new road's surface and lanes feel as smooth and wide as a NASCAR track....but still clogging up the areas that used to make for an easy evening commute as recently as last week certainly wasn't the way this project was meant to shake out.

The group's suggestion for helping things flow more smoothly? Be sure to use both lanes of the new double-left turn lanes when you merge.

Also, you can check the traffic in real-time at virtually any spot on the new highway by visiting MO-DOT's website and checking out their live streams. Or you could be like this blogger and brave the 5:30 p.m. rush hour just so you can complain about it tomorrow.

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