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St. Louis shuts down Eads Bridge, sets up barricades to curb downtown mayhem

St. Louis shuts down Eads Bridge, sets up barricades to curb downtown mayhem

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ST. LOUIS — St. Louis leaders this week closed all lanes of the Eads Bridge and barricaded some downtown streets to control a wave of reckless driving and violence in the area.

Mayor Lyda Krewson said in a video briefing Friday that this summer downtown residents have reported increased racing, trick-driving on motorcycles and ATVs and more gunfire than usual.

The mayor said the mayhem reached a new level last weekend, creating an “untenable situation.”

Krewson closed the Eads Bridge on Friday morning until further notice as an emergency step. Krewson said racers have been speeding across the city-owned bridge that spans the Mississippi River between Missouri and Illinois near the Gateway Arch.

Krewson’s decision comes the same week the nearby Martin Luther King Bridge, which also connects the two states, reopened after a two-year closure.

In addition to the bridge, the city also closed a section of Washington Avenue from Tucker Boulevard to 14th Street with barricades this week. Barriers also narrow traffic in stretches of 4th Street, Broadway and Market Street.

“These are temporary changes,” Krewson said Friday. “This isn’t something that we expect to be there forever.”

Krewson said downtown streets are built to hold a much larger volume of traffic than the city sees in an average day, and with fewer people working downtown because of COVID-19, the streets are even less crowded.

Krewson said she hopes cutting down on empty streets will prevent the reckless driving from repeating.

The mayor also responded to critiques of the changes.

“Some folks have commented that it’s ugly. It is,” Krewson said, adding: “It’s not aesthetically pleasing, but this is about safety and this is about trying to control the street environment.”

Krewson said the city would try to find a better solution for the long term.

“All of this is emergency procedures to try to get a handle on this sort of raucous behavior,” Krewson said.

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