Jean Ann Lawson

Deanna Venker
Commissioner of Traffic
City of St. Louis

Favorite Music

‘70s rock, especially Earth, Wind & Fire, eg, September.


St. Louis’s high-pressure-sodium-bulb streetlights were aging, but it couldn’t afford to replace all 58,500 with more cost-efficient LED lights. In July 2016, St. Louis began replacing LEDs piecemeal. It needed a smart, diversified, manageable, long-term financing program to schedule full replacement over the coming decade–and then to be ready in 15 years to start the cycle all over again.


The city enlisted aldermen and community groups to earmark neighborhood funds to speed up installation. This was a big choice for those groups, since they also face requests to spend on paving roads, procuring dumpsters, etc. Collecting some $500K for 2016, the city installed 2,500 new LEDs, and required LEDs for all new permitted construction. It also leveraged a 10-year, low-interest energy loan from the state’s economic development agency to phase in LEDs replacements. Energy savings (40-60% off the city’s $1.9M annual electric costs) will pay off loans and help achieve full conversion within 10 years.

Lessons Learned

Recruit new and unusual financing partners for capital improvement projects. Phase in projects. Leverage federal, state and local government funding opportunities.

Deanna’s Job

Oversees Traffic & Lighting Division, which maintains traffic signals, traffic signage, traffic painting and striping, and street lighting.

Deanna’s Personal Background

Born in Pittsburgh, grew up in St. Louis. With an engineer father, she was “destined” to end up in engineering. Got her civil engineering degree from University of Missouri—Rolla (BS, ’94). Joined the Missouri Department of Transportation as a traffic engineer after graduation and before landing a job with St. Louis.

Startling Fact

Drives a 2009 Harley Davidson Fat Boy.

Contact Info