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Edwardsville’s Pedestrian Tunnel for High School Students

September 7, 2006 Education, Metro East, Planning & Design, Suburban Sprawl 16 Comments

IMG_4872.jpgWhy did the student not cross the road? Because they were chicken? No, because they have a new $480,000 pedestrian tunnel in place of the former shuttle buses. And it is against school policy for them to walk across the two lane street in front of the high school. Seriously, I’m not making this up!

Last June I did a brief post on the planned tunnel after reading an article in the Belleville News-Democrat. This past Saturday morning I visited the now finished tunnel on a tour of Edwardville, Illinois (map).

So, there it is on the right: the long walk under Center Grove Rd with the massive high school campus in the background. Remember the days when you could walk or bike to school? Those times seem long gone. Now students drive their own cars to school and in Edwardsville some students, roughly 200, have to park across the street and walk under the street to get to the campus.

IMG_4875.jpgDon’t look for any steps or walkway to get you from the south side of Center Grove Rd down to the tunnel, it is assumed that nobody walks in this part of town. Probably true enough, it is nothing but tacky buildings set in individual seas of parking.

I should also point out the tunnel was planned from day one. It wasn’t built until this summer because they just received the funding to construct it. So when planning a new high school campus the concept of say placing it closer to walkable areas seems to have been ruled out. I’m actually told the school district is much larger than the City of Edwardsville and that the schools is pretty centered within the district. The solution then becomes two smaller high schools rather than one large high school. You can point to additional costs to do that but that can be countered with the additional costs of sprawl and, in this case, a pedestrian tunnel.

IMG_4878.jpgThis is Center Grove Rd looking west from the parking lot entrance. That is not a sidewalk you see to the left of the road, it is the shoulder of the roadbed. You can see some of the recently built sprawl in the background. What a horrible environment they are subjecting their impressionable youth.

Sadly, they are in effect teaching kids pedestrians and streets don’t mix.

– Steve


Currently there are "16 comments" on this Article:

  1. travis reems says:


    Some people actually like buildings in seas of grass, trees, and open space. That is why they live in suburbia and rural America. You and I don’t prefer such, and live in an urban setting. There is plenty of space in this continent of a nation of ours for all environments of lifestyle.

    I would hope you would be more open-minded to accept how others choose to live. And, don’t forget you are a role model to our impressionable youth, like the urbanelitest. 😉

    [UR Travis your arguement fails to consider the fiscal impact of their lifestyle choice. Soldiers are dying, we have huge deficits, jobs are leaving our country, out communities are spread out creating large economic disparities. Rural America I love. I was also charmed by the center of Edwardsville but the newer stuff is not a choice — it is mandated by zoning and forced upon people by developers and traffic engineers. – SLP]

  2. J says:

    Wait–they’re walking, right? On a sidewalk. Near a street. I don’t get it.

    It’s not like the school installed airport-style people movers. Would you prefer the kids all be assigned scooters to get to and fro (more urban for ya)?

    And sorry–I think it’s completley sane for a school built in a suburban area to get nervous about kids crossing a busy/fast moving road like that one.

    [UR A crosswalk would be nice. If thousands can cross 5th Avenue in NYC I think a couple hundred kids can cross a two-land road without bringing the world to an end. – SLP]

  3. LisaS says:

    Philosophical issues aside, let’s just talk about the money:

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to limit the use of cars by students than to spend money on something like this? In the suburban area where I grew up, only juniors and seniors were allowed to drive to school because of limited availability of parking. Then again, I’m sure many of the parents, tired of driving these kids everywhere, would have rebelled.

    So far as crossing the street goes, shouldn’t high school students know how to do this? Why not install a traffic light with a “push this button to cross” button? Much less expensive than a tunnel … but you do have to count on people actually stopping for the light ….

  4. awb says:

    I had to look really closely to see the cars on the road. Perhaps all the traffic the district fears is from the school itself. The irony.

    What is the speed limit on Center Grove in front of the school?

  5. Julia says:

    Instead of teaching kids to be responsible, let’s coddle them and tell them that though they can drive, they’re not capable of walking across an intersection bordered by stoplights. To quote Charlie Brown, “Good grief.”

  6. Very Responsible High School Student says:

    WHATEVER! I’m TOTALLY responsible! My parents bought me a brand new Hummer and I wash it CONSTANTLY so I can drive it down the street to school every day and show it off in front of those loser kids whose parents didn’t buy them expensive cars! And thank GOD I don’t have to cross that two-lane road any more! All that looking ONE way and then looking the OTHER way … it just totally cramped my style! Peace out! Go Tigers!

  7. travis reems says:


    There is no inherent fiscal harm from living in open-space. If people choose to live in wide-open space, that is their choice. It is their choice to spend more on fuel and time to get to and fro.

    Further, zoning isn’t some magical force that appears. It comes from those traffic engineers, elected officials, and others in local government who were put in place by the people that choose to live in these communities. Citizens of communities can change the zoning, as suits their needs.

    What scares me is that it seems if you had your way, you’d institute national zoning standards by which all in America were forced to live an urban(review) existence. It is a great element of living in America that if you want to live in a rural setting you can; if you want to live in a suburban setting , you can; if you want to live in an urban setting you can. With our great freedoms, people can move to where they want to live.

    Finally, it is up to the local community to decide how that community is to be shaped, not us–we don’t live there.


    Actually, the transportation costs of bussing all the students could be greater in the long term than a one-time construction expense of the tunnel.

    As for crossing the street, unlike Steve’s analogy of crossing 5th Avenue in a city where the traffic crawls, motorists in areas such as this tend to speed, not notice partially used traffic lights, and exhibit other dangerous behaviors that would put the kids at an undue risk.

    [URTravis you continue to operate under the false assumption that our nation’s zoning laws were derived in a fair and democratic manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. Since WWII highly suburban zoning was institutionalized nationally in all areas — urban and rural (suburban didn’t really exist much at the time). And no, I can’t live in an urban life in St. Louis because we continue to do suburban things in all areas. – SLP]

  8. Adam says:


    wouldn’t you agree that people’s choices have an effect on other people and on the environment? given the commotion over fuel consumption and environmental problems these days it would be nice if people’s choices reflected a concern for that state of affairs. In reality, there IS fiscal harm in spreading our resources thinner and thinner.

  9. travis reems says:


    If communities are unhappy with their zoning, they can change them. It isn’t necessary or proper for outsiders to tell them how to live. I really thought your were more tolerant of others’ lifestyle choices than it appears you may be.

    Finally, if you cannot live as urban a lifestyle as you wish in St. Louis, you have two choices: try to change things in your community (if the community agrees with your vision), or move to somewhere where the community agrees with your vision. You cannot inflict a tyranny of the minority on the majority.


    Yes, we all live in such a way as we co-exist and interact with eachother’s lives, and as such it is left to communities to set standards for life in those communities.

  10. Todd Plesko says:

    While you can certainly question the sea of automobiles at Edwardsville High School, there are some interesting developments. First, the high school (back side) is connected with on the large MCT bike trails which would let those who live in many parts of Edwardsville and Glen Carbon get to the school without crossing any streets.

    Second, MCT’s trail system is being expanded in Edwardsville and Glen Carbon offering amazing connectivity to many many subdivisions without having to cross 157 or 159. Within the County, MCT has preserved and developed something like 80 miles of trails. Subdivisions are not asking to construct pedestrian links to the trails. People buying homes in Madison County are asking of the developments are connected to the trail system.

    Third the new Edwardsville Crossing development (While not as interesting as the Wildwood Town Center) has been constructed with very nice sidewalks offering bike and walking access in an area that was historically totally car oriented. Its much much better than the Loughborough Schnuck’s development.

    Edwardsville is not urban St. Louis, but there are some very small signs that some communities are interested is some changes in the standard big box development strategies.

    By the way, the traffic volume and speed along Center Grove Road lead to numerous near misses. The kids would just spill across the street as mob without any concern for the traffic. The school and the parents demanded something safer than a “cross walk”.

  11. Maurice says:

    I could go on and on about how we couldn’t drive to school until we could afford to buy our own cars or we had to be seniors because we didn’thave the space for them… But this is the ’06s…

    If those parents are tired of driving their kids to school and want them to have cars, then they also have the right to get parking lot for them. We aren’t in a position to dictate that they can’t (unless a reader has children there).

    But realisticlly…don’t expect kids to use a crosswalk. If adults can’t do it, kids wont. You can build the cross walk if you want, but you and I know that no amount of legislation or building will get them to use it and not cut across moving cars…a nightmare waiting to happen. (Look at SLU on Grand)

    As much as I’m against kids driving to school..if they do, then they deserve a safe and realistic way to cross.

    [UR – I support all modes of transportation so I would not want to ban the choice of using a car. But so many of today’s schools are in locations where the car becomes the only choice. Try finding a bike rack at newer schools — they don’t exist for the most part. You can say they don’t have racks because nobody bikes but many may not bike because they can’t lock up the bike if they do. Chicken-Egg; Egg-Chicken.

    The reduction in the number of children able to walk or bike to school has dropped significantly in the last 50 years — this has wider implications that simply mom having to take junior to school. See http://www.walktoschool.org/ for more info on encouraging walking. – SLP]

  12. Douglas Duckworth says:

    Travis, change the zoning laws? Well we have wanted that for the last 20-30 years. Most individuals do not even know what zoning is or how it operates. The masses do not even understand urbanity or its benefits. Most people take what they get and this is the problem. Steve is trying to educate the electorate and hold those in power accountable for their actions. He is trying to educate them as well. Alas, government officials keep the status quo in effect because it’s easier than something better. Coming out with an urban message as YVA stated would be laughable. That is tyranny: the tyranny of ignorance and complacency.

  13. bored at ehs reading this article says:

    yes we are all spoiled rich white kids from illinois, yes we need cars, yes we just might die if we cross the road. but i park in the real parking lot and i dont have to worry about this. hahaha. and the traffic can get kind of sticky at peak hours and when we have our football games that we average 51 points during..anyways go tigers.

  14. Yes, we need cars, i do agree with the fact that sophomores should not be able to drive, but thats not my problem. Ah well. F*ck the school anyway, it sucks.
    Big Time. Oh, and its WAY overcrowded

  15. John says:

    i’d just like to say that the underpass is a huge convenience (but then again, i’m just a dumb spoiled white kid). the road is crowded in the morning and afternoon, and most of the drivers are high school students (last i checked, they werent the most responsible drivers around) . i’d be happy to take some pictures to show you. besides, its been two years since that thing was built. not to mention the fact that hundreds of students use the underpass everyday to get to the football and soccer fields after school, and it wouldnt be pretty seeing them try to cross the street everyday in crowded traffic. oh well, i’m just a student who knows nothing compared to you adults who know everything about the school and the street, when half of you arent even from edwardsville

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