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What speed bumps? I don't see any speed bumps.

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What speed bump?

City workers earlier this month removed the speed bumps on Wells Avenue in front of the entrance to the Zoo.

ST. LOUIS • About three weeks ago, Alderman Antonio French was headed to a meeting in Forest Park with one of his summer interns, and he joked about two speed bumps outside the entrance to the St. Louis Zoo.

The street humps, he told the intern, were the cause of some consternation.

Earlier this year, French had proposed similar traffic measures in the 21st Ward's O'Fallon Park on West Florissant Avenue in north city. He was worried some drivers were speeding past the greenways as a cut-through to Interstate 70, and he wanted a deterrent.

Aldermen narrowly passed French's plan this summer, despite some surprisingly heated debate. Mayor Francis Slay later vetoed the bill, his legal counsel ruling that state law did not allow for speed bumps on city streets.

And French flipped. How could the mayor bar bumps in O'Fallon when they already exist in Tower Grove and Forest parks?

Three weeks ago, French discussed this tale with his intern. Then, that Monday, he got a call.

The speed bumps outside the Zoo were gone.

City employees, it turns out, had been ordered to shave them off.

The Mayor's Office, contacted today about the missing asphalt, said that the speed deterrents simply weren't needed any more, thanks to the new pedestrian bridge spanning Wells Avenue and connecting the Zoo parking lot to entrance.

The bumps had been put in "almost as a knee-jerk reaction" to the death of a child after being struck by a car years ago, Parks Director Gary Bess explained. The bridge solved the problem more effectively, he said.

But, when pressed, Bess acknowledged that French's speed bumps had something to do with it, too.

After all, the pedestrian bridge opened more than a year ago. Once the counselor decided that state law didn't allow for bumps, the city had to remove them from its streets, Bess said.

To which French just chuckled.

"That's nuts, man," he said. "All of this over a little speed bump."


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