North County incidents during evening peak causes standstill traffic

Posted: 2014/08/04 in accident, congestion, MoDOT

The evening started with some lane closures on the Clark Bridge that was supposedly in the process of being picked up around 16:00.  However, there was an incident in the left lane when that happened:

Any incident on the Clark Bridge during peak hours will draw attention, as it is an alternate route to this section of 270. This incident will remain active for over an hour and back up northbound traffic back to 94, which is not a good sign as this usually forces more people to stay on 270 instead of getting off at 367 bound for Alton. Shortly after 17:00 just before the Route 367 exit on eastbound 270, 5 vehicles including a police vehicle and a tractor-trailer would tangle up and block all traffic for over an hour, and this happened while the Clark Bridge incident was still active.

With this incident, it was now a “Code Red” traffic situation.  If you don’t know what is a “Code Red”, it is basically when an emergency causes a major highway to shut down – and in this case it becomes “all hands on deck” between the emergency crews and traffic engineers to get the highway to reopen.  (NOTE: Code Red can also mean an weather-related emergency – this varies by region.)   MoDOT was very busy getting the traffic mitigation efforts in place, and while North County does not have a lot of alternate east-west alternate routes (besides Dunn, McDonnell, and Parker), this section of 270 that the incident happened does not bog down like the section around McDonnell during the evening peak.  When the incident happened, the traffic was jammed from Old Halls Ferry all the way back to McDonnell, and this caused MoDOT to attempt to force traffic off at 170.

Well, there needs to be improvement on this mitigation effort, as it is now August. August is virtually the second season of major incidents on this section of 270, besides the usual peak season from December through March.  August is the peak time for tire blowouts as it is typically the hottest month of the year, and this is when the inexperienced drivers start making their treks on 270 for school.  In fact, the biggest incidents tend to happen in August and this upcoming weekend will mark 20 years since one of the biggest incidents that happened on this section of 270.  This season has been known to even stretch into mid-September as evidenced on what happened last year.

Just for good measure, there was an secondary incident as well – which was a minor one.  Despite the fact the lanes were closed for just over an hour, there were no serious injuries reported.  Most importantly, an incident like this one happening just a couple miles to the east would made the situation even worse.

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