Travelers of Interstate 44 near St. Louis feel that legally high speeds, poor design, and bad signage contributed to a deadly crash near Six Flags earlier this week.
The accident occurred on a westbound stretch of the highway leading to the amusement park, which city officials say is well known for its severe traffic congestion during the summer.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
, many people want to see the speed limit reduced to 60 from 70 mph from the park area to the St. Louis County line.
Five members of a St. Rose, Mo., family were killed Monday morning when their van swerved in front of a big rig on their way to the amusement park. The van failed to stop for traffic, struck the rear of another van and veered into the path of the truck. The Missouri Highway Patrol said the truck was traveling within the legal speed limit.
The accident has renewed interest in moving forward with safety improvements on the highway, including lower speed limits, new signs warning of congestion, and interchange enhancement at the exit where the crash occurred, near Allenton Road. Travelers say there are four lanes of traffic near the road that turn into two at the exit, and while the westbound traffic inches along on the two main exit lanes, cars and trucks continue to barrel by at 70 mph and above in the remaining two lanes.
City officials and area merchants argue that traffic continues to back up on the highway because signals at the exit aren’t giving motorists enough room to pass through.
Since the accident, Sen. David Klarich has been pushing the Missouri Highway Commission to speed up work on the I-44/Allenton interchange and install warning signs, but highway officials aren’t entirely convinced that’s the way to go. Reports from the Missouri Highway Patrol indicate that the accident happened because the van driver wasn’t paying attention. St. Clair and Missouri highway officials say the signage on I-44 is adequate, and that the number of accidents occurring on the highway is below the state average.