Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Streetsblog.net

County Gov Bullies Missouri Town Into Abandoning a Safer Main Street

11:50 AM EDT on October 7, 2015

Local residents described Main Street in O'Fallon, Missouri, as "ugly," "outdated," and "old" in a series of meetings earlier this year.

Main Street in O'Fallon, Missouri via Missouri BIke Fed
Main Street in O'Fallon, Missouri. Photo via Missouri Bike Fed

Officials responded with a plan to redesign the road to make it safer and more inviting for pedestrians: a road diet. Scores of American cities have used this design treatment to calm traffic and make commercial districts more walkable, preventing injuries and deaths in the process.

Who could have a problem with that? Well, St. Charles County. The county government has decided to intervene, usurping the authority of the local government. Brent Hugh at the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation explains:

This is, frankly, one of the most unbelievable scenarios we have seen in many years of advocacy for better communities for walking and bicycling. The city, which is close to the situation and knows its own needs, had gone through a detailed planning process for improving its main street. The process included public meetings, interviews, and many other forms of public outreach to find out what O'Fallon citizens and businesses really want and need from the project.

After all of that, the County -- without doing any similar research or public outreach -- stepped in and, attempting to exercise bald political power, issued a threat: If the city goes through with its citizen-supported plan, the County will withhold $2.5 million in funding from the city.

This is not the first time St. Charles County has used a similar threat to derail a city's work to make its city center more walkable and bikeable. St. Charles County recently pressured the City of St. Charles to remove planned bike lanes from a project.

It is unfortunate that St. Charles County is taking these steps backward at this important time. Because cities around Missouri, around the United States, and around the world are taking dramatic steps to improve their city centers for bicycling and walking.

And this is not just an issue about who is going to prevail in a political tug of war. The reason advocates and community members are so passionate about implementing road diets in the streets that run through the hearts of their communities is that road diets save lives.

Hugh is urging people to share the news widely and contact local leaders with objections.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Wash Cycle explains D.C.'s bike share expansion plans over the next three years. Twin Cities Sidewalks says despite the media's chorus a traffic death last week in St. Paul could have been prevented. And Seattle Transit Blog explains that the city has money to expand transit, but is having trouble filling vacant positions.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Tuesday’s Headlines Are Trending Down

An estimated 19,515 people died in car crashes during the first half of 2023, which is down 3.3 percent but still 19,515 too many.

October 3, 2023

What Do ‘Livable’ Streets Look Like in an Era of Driverless Cars?

Does a world of autonomous cars really have to make our streets less human? Possibly.

October 3, 2023

Why Chicago Advocates Are Providing Bikes to Migrants

Unless funds are freed up from a larger entity, bike distribution to asylum seekers is going to stay in crisis mode indefinitely.

October 2, 2023

Monday’s Headlines Are Open for Business

Monday will be just another Monday for federal employees, as Congress avoided a government shutdown. Plus, declining gas tax revenue provides an opportunity to rethink transportation funding.

October 2, 2023

Why Connecticut is Investing in New Regional Rail

Gov. Ned Lamont will spend $315 million investment on new rail cars — but they're not going anywhere near Grand Central. Here's why.

October 2, 2023
See all posts