14th Street is a very popular north-south street through downtown St. Louis. Unfortunately, it’s too popular. Nearly every MetroBus that comes into downtown uses 14th just as nearly every event shuts down at least one intersection along 14th, usually at Chestnut, requiring many buses to reroute.
It seems like twice per month there’s a festival, concert, run, walk, bike ride, parade, or something that totally screws up the bus routes and schedules. All because the events shut down the primary route used by the buses. Because we’ve messed up our street grid for years by removing streets and making others one-way 14th St is the only choice for these bus routes. The reroutes that go into place are time consuming, making that route late everywhere it travels.
The solution is to remove the conflict, not close 14th St. How you ask? Not possible right now, but perhaps once the area is redesigned.
From the Master Plan:
The Civic Room will create a large unified space well-suited for civic events, markets, festivals and concerts. In order to achieve this, it is anticipated that Chestnut Street would be closed incrementally over time, beginning with temporary closures for festivals, and ultimately considered for permanent or seasonal closure. though still allowing emergency and service vehicles access. Chestnut Street should be still be hard surfaced with a paving different than surrounding areas, to accommodate tents and other services necessary for festivals. Locations for performance stages and cultural or art annexes should be provided to further define the civic character of the space and create attractions to activate the mall.
This is good, just the wrong location. Rather than Tucker (12th) to 15th I think it needs to be 14th to 17th or 18th. 18th St is a busy street but it doesn’t have any bus routes, close it for an event to combine with Aloe Plaza to 20th. But from 15th to 20th the space is narrow, from Market to Chestnut only.
If the St. Louis Streetcar gets funded and built, 14th St will need to stay open so I hope someone creative can find a way to hold events here while still allowing all transit vehicles continuous access to 14th St.
Transit is important but so are events. One shouldn’t be compromised by the other. Tomorrow’s post will be about design issues with the current area around the Soldier’s Memorial along with some possible solutions.
– Steve Patterson