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Page Avenue Extension (Route 364) Opened Ten Years Ago Today

For years it was just a controversial highway proposal, but a decade ago phase one of the Page Ave. Extension (aka I- Route 364) opened, connecting the Westport area of St. Louis County to St. Charles County.  Years before the opening I participated in efforts to derail the project, including attempting to pursuede St. Louis County voters to reject a land swap allowing the road project to cut through Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park. Originally planned in 1969, construction began in 1997.

Looking west on I-364 Source: Google Streetview
Looking west on I-364
Source: Google Streetview

Before construction could begin a land swap had to take place to permit the selected route through the south edge of the park:

Opponents say the extension not only will destroy the park but also will add a fourth bridge to hasten the exodus of the middle class from St. Louis and aging St. Louis County suburbs to the greener pastures of St. Charles, Lincoln and Warren counties.

“If it goes through, it’s the turning point for the downslide of St. Louis County,” said state Rep. Joan Bray, D-University City, who helped a group called Taxpayers Against Page Freeway gather more than 40,000 signatures to put the referendum before voters.

Bray said the money slated for the project would be better spent to upgrade existing roads and to expand MetroLink. (source)

Voters, unfortunately, 60% approved the measure in November 1998. Highway advocates spent $800,000 vs $160,00 from the opposition (source).

Following the opening, St. Louis County experienced a population decline for the first time since St. Louis City left in 1876
Following the opening, St. Louis County experienced a population decline for the first time since St. Louis City left in 1876

Many factors are at play in the population decline of St. Louis County and increase in St. Charles County but I have no doubt I-Route 364 played a role.  Ground was broken on the third and final phase on May 22, 2013.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "67 comments" on this Article:

  1. concerned billiken says:

    regarding “I-364” – was it ever planned to be an interstate highway? it is currently a state highway and as such i had never heard it with an “I” prefix, but i haven’t been a st. louisan long enough to know if it was planned as an interstate.

  2. RyleyinSTL says:

    A very big road to the slums of the future.

  3. JZ71 says:

    I don’t have any strong feelings on whether this is/was a good or a bad thing. There apparently was/is a need for these lanes, and whether they were added here or by rebuilding the Boone and Blanchette bridges (and widening both 40/64 and 70) or by building a new freeway in between the two existing corridors, it was bound to happen. The advantage of doing it this way is to disperse the traffic and provide more options, the advantage of not doing it would be to concentrate traffic. You’re assuming that congested highways will be a significant barrier to sprawl. I think that what happens in growing sunbelt cities (LA, Phoenix, Silicon Valley, Austin, Dallas, Atlanta, Orlando, etc.) pretty much contradicts that – traffic sucks, long commutes are accepted and people continue to “buy into” the sprawl and the freeways. Perhaps the 60% that supported it got it right – get ahead of the problem instead of going through the pain of the 40/64 closure and rebuild?

    Whether you like it or not, we’re a region with regional issues. We can’t just build a wall around the city and assume that everyone is going to say that things are so much better in the city that they’ll always pick it over every suburban option. In addition to places to live, the suburbs have places to shop, places to work, places to recreate and places to receive medical care. Yes, all those “should” be in the city, but, guess what, they’re not! As long as people CHOOSE to spend their hard-earned dollars where they spend them, retailers and developers are going to locate where the spending is happening (and, unfortunately, many times, it’s not going to be in the city.) Money talks. Don’t spend it at Trader Joe’s (in the county), spend it at Culinaria (in the city). Turn down that job at Mastercard (St. Charles County), get one a Wells-Fargo (in the city). Don’t buy that new 4-bedroom cracker box in O’Fallon, buy an 80-year-old 2-bedroom fixer-upper in south city. Take transit, don’t drive. If enough of “us” do this, the tide will shift. But until then, it’s unreasonable to expect people not to vote for things that they view to be in their self interest, even though you want to characterize their choices as being “unfortunate”.

    • Fozzie says:

      Let’s not forget that unsteady school districts in the City and inner suburbs are huge factors in westward migration.

      • moe says:

        Probably the biggest factor Fozzie.

      • The schools in the inner-ring suburbs weren’t an issue when planning to extend Page Ave across the Missouri River began in 1969.

        • moe says:

          White flight was occurring in the late 60’s…..due in large part to the schools. (well actually it was parental racism that manifested itself through the schools) The suburbs were getting too crowded and people saw lots of open land. The rest is history…

    • moe says:

      JZ….again I’m amazed that we continue to agree. Some people think that we should just build walls and level all the suburbs because their view is the only correct view. Never mind that sprawl has been around since man first left Mesopotamia. Never mind that without sprawl we wouldn’t have Forest Park or Tower Grove Park sitting in the middle of the City.
      Sprawl in and of itself is not bad. A difficult concept for many. No, they would rather just bitch and moan about the evils of sprawl because it’s not their ‘utopia’. The people obviously like St. Charles otherwise it would not be growing as fast. But instead of examining why they stay (they could have moved to Kansas City, so something is keeping them in the region), let’s call them evil as if we have nothing to learn from them.
      Fozzie and Ryley are both right…..educational opportunities played a very big role, and no matter how pretty St. Charles bedazzles itself, it too will go through the ups and downs of a city and so will be a ‘slum’ at one point and then rebound.
      Now I’m not a fan of St. Charles by any means. I find their shit don’t stink attitude to be a bit much (and their politics)..but they just don’t realize that they’re diaper has reached the tipping point yet. I was against the extension because it’s a bridge through a park. Not to keep people in the City by making it so difficult to commute.
      And have you ever noticed that when one mentions St. Louis sprawl, they immediately point to St. Charles. They forget to look across the river to the East. Sure, East St. Louis and Fairview Heights and Highland and a host of other cities are in another state, but last I checked, we were ONE region. There is plenty of room for everyone, and if everyone would just realize that we are ONE region, we would all be a hell of a lot better off.

      • John R says:

        Sprawl without regional population growth is immensely destructive. If we were growing even at the national average then a stronger case can be made that continued westward progression is fine. But we are not. The issue is whether the region is putting its investments into projects that strengthens itself. That is highly questionable.

        • JZ71 says:

          Individual people make individual decisions based on their own interests, to further their own agendas. Sprawl is not good if the center is, or is to remain, the center of that particular universe. But around here, with the city losing 60% of its population over 60-75 years, and the downtown CBD becoming increasingly irrelevant as an employment center, it stands to reason that that population would end up somewhere else, either nearby, across the state or in another state. We didn’t suffer from a horrendous plague, it’s just that many people decided, for whatever reason(s), good or bad, rational or irrational, that city life in St. Louis simply was not as attractive as one or more options AND they had the resources to move to wherever they CHOSE to move to. I’m a big believer in the carrot over the stick approach. Telling people what they should not or can not do is much less effective than presenting, better, more-attractive alternatives that they actually want!

          I’ve lived in an area with growth controls. It worked fairly well for a few years, but then demand exceeded supply and two things happened – housing costs skyrocketed and growth and sprawl started to happen even further out, making regional sprawl worse, not containing it, at all. The only two ways to truly contain growth would to either live on a peninsula (like San Francisco), where Mother Nature is the barrier, or to implement stringent, statewide growth boundaries, which I view as politically impossible. Either way, high demand and low supply will inevitably conspire to raise housing costs, so be careful about what you ask for – you probably don’t want to pay $400,000, $650,000 or $900,000 for something that would cost you less than $250,000 around here.

          We have a strong tradition of individual property rights. What valid reason would the government have to draw an arbitrary line and say that if you’re the lucky landowner on the east side of the line? That, hey, have at it, come up with some plans to build houses or a shopping center, while, at the same time, telling the adjoining landowner, on the west side of said arbitrary line, hey, you’re SOL, you can’t sell your farm to a developer and retire because “we” know what’s best?! And taking it a step further, if you truly believe in growth controls, why even move out of your parents’ house? It’s already there, there’s room, so make it work!

          Finally, I find it a bit arrogant to assume that just because St. Louis looks the way it does today, that it hasn’t changed, significantly, over the past 50, 100 AND 200 years. Unless you’re living in Soulard or Laclede’s Landing, you’re living somewhere that was once someone’s family farm, that some developer purchased, came in and subdivided, something that required new water lines and sewers, increased police and fire protection, and new roads, wider roads and an extension of the existing streetcar or bus lines! I’m also old enough to be at the “I remember when” stage of my life, and the biggest thing I’ve learned is that change is usually a positive. We never stay exactly the way we are / were at some arbitrary point in time, and if we’re not getting better, we’re very likely getting worse!

          • moe says:

            Well said JZ. I wish some of these people would realize that even in their perfect little Ward Cleaver town….it was a damn suburb.

          • John R says:

            Who is this addressed to? I said nothing of growth controls. Weird. But kudos for your passion.

          • JZ71 says:

            You stated that “Sprawl without regional population growth is immensely destructive” (with which I agree). Our regional population is relatively stable / static: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_St._Louis. The only way to truly limit “sprawl without regional population growth” would be to impose growth controls / boundaries UNLESS there is some magical shift (back?) to a denser, urban lifestyle, done voluntarily, by a majority of the population.

          • John R says:

            I made only a few assertions in my comment. And I see you agree that sprawl w/o population growth is immensely destructive. I also stated that 1) we are not keeping up with the national average in population growth and 2) that it is highly questionable that we have made good investments that have strengthened our region. The population claim is just a fact (you’re right to say we are relatively static, but that is how regions lag behind…. we have first-class sprawl w/o first-class growth) and I guess you could argue that we indeed have a strong record of sound investments that have strengthened our region, but we would simply have to disagree on that one. Anyway, I just thought your diatribe was rather odd, imo, for what was a rather uncontroversial comment.

      • Steven says:

        The reason St. Charles gets brought up is because St Clair County FUNDS transit that is CONNECTED to the greater region, and St. Charles does NOT.

        Metrolink goes to Fairview Heights and Belleville. It does NOT go to St. Charles. I think if the ENTIRE region were connected by transit, a lot of the vitriol about St. Charles would subside.

      • gmichaud says:

        It’s called sprawl because the urban design has no meaning in a larger context of human living. Suburban development in itself, you are right has been in place since the beginning of time. Although it is only in recent times that development outside the city core was not simply outside the city walls. Even into the 1940’s and 1950’s the St. Louis region was largely pedestrian and transit orientated.
        In any case I have pointed to Stockholm a number of times and how they planned their suburbs around rail. And guess what?,the people in the Stockholm suburbs have suburban homes, cars, plus access to transit and pedestrian friendly environments. So it is possible to do a better job than simply giving up the ghost to mindless sprawl that only serves the auto. (The Stockholm region is around the same populations as St Louis)
        We in St. Louis have served the automobile very well, while people and their quality of life have become secondary .What is happening in the St Louis region is not sustainable, not even close. Nor am I sure if St. Charles will rebound once it becomes a slum. It, along with much of St. Louis “sprawl” is poorly thought out and executed and likely not worth saving in a future era where sensible urban design prevails.

        • moe says:

          This is not a St. Louis problem, this is an American problem of our own making. I’m not a fan of ‘sprawl’ believe it or not and I dislike St. Charles for a number of reasons, but if one wants to find a ‘smoking gun’ per se, it is the American culture driven by big corporation marketing driven by corporations buying Washington and then add in white flight and other issues. Europe is nice to look at, they have some great ideas, are ahead of us in many ways…but they’ve also had immense failures along the way and more importantly, many cultural forces that Americans have never had to deal with (for instance, they’ve had many wars and never had to deal with racism on the level we have). So to say that what works in Stockholm will work in America is a guess at best. On the surface…yes, but deep down….I wouldn’t bet the suburban home on it.

          • gmichaud says:

            I believe what works in Stockholm can work in St. Louis, Europe has an older culture to be sure and has time to work out the kinks, but then you have a city like Helsinki, Finland, well designed with a high quality of life and not much older than St. Louis. It also has nearly the same population in their metro area.

            In part it is willful ignorance on part of St. Louis by refusing to examine what has worked in other cities.

        • JZ71 says:

          OK, so Stockholm is nirvana – how do we realistically move from our current path of impending doom, here in St. Louis, to a centralized planning structure centered around rail transit? How do we convince consumers to choose more-expensive, denser developments over the current sprawl? How do we fund the massive investments in public transit to make it a viable option to the private vehicle? How do we get our local governments to defer to other jurisdictions, in the name of the greater good?

          • dempster holland says:

            you would first have to convince people to give up their single-family homes with
            back yards. For what? The chance to walk to the grocery store?

          • gmichaud says:

            Nirvana should probably be left to the Buddhas. Centralized planning structure?, how about at least a modicum of a planning effort. I see no alternatives offered in the current paradigm, do you?

            An example, while the McKee development of the Northside is not sprawl per se, it has similar characteristics, That is a blank slate of sorts. What efforts are there to integrate transit into new development? There has been no public discussion that I have seen. In fact almost no plans anywhere at all. And none demanded by the City, even as a condition for handing over millions of dollars to the developer.

            So is it in the interest of the community to have effective mass transit and a city plan that supports it? Since a discussion never occurs as to what a design solution might look like, it is impossible for the public to make an intelligent decision or have a viable dialogue about the subject.

            Thus, as in the Stockholm example where the trains were included in suburban expansion it means in effect that suburban living can be compatible with walkable and transit friendly communities.

            How they got there is another question. But yes there are cities with processes of urban development and transit integration worth looking at. Stockholm, the City of London, Helsinki, Portland, San Francisco and Toronto to name a few have their own strategies for building cities. And they are all far more attractive than St. Louis in quality of life.

            So a question such as how to fund massive investments in transit is irrelevant when St. Louis cannot for example even manage a decent land use plan around the Grand Ave Metro station and that considerable investment. Instead, the major land owner, SLU builds suburban style developments that completely counter the transit investment that’s already been made.

            Of course there is the East West Gateway Council of Governments to supposedly facilitate agreements in the region, but even they fail in that they only represent the auto and transit part of planning and not integration into an actual city plan.

            There is simply no leadership in St. Louis to handle or at least raise, these issues. I don’t know if it is corruption or stupidity. Maybe a little of both.

          • JZ71 says:

            I’m a big believer in we get the government we deserve. For whatever reasons, most residents of the region seem to be pretty comfortable with the current scale and scope of development, especially in the suburbs. The perception / belief that you present seems to be a distinct minority position. It’s not that urban options aren’t available (and they’re certainly more affordable than in many other cities, like San Francisco and Toronto), it’s that relatively few residents are embracing them. While “planning” is part of the equation, so are employment centers (dispersed), housing costs (low), land values (low), commuting times (comfortable), congestion (manageable) and government (fragmented). Sure, we can (and should) do a better job at “planning”, but until people start buying what you’re selling, it’s going to remain essentially an academic exercise (in futility?)!

          • gmichaud says:

            It is not an academic exercise, you seem to be excusing mediocrity. If house A has is nice and has a nice yard but is in an urban desert and house B is nice and has a nice yard and is also in a urban desert then where is the choice?

            There is a pent up demand for transit if you look at the 2000 or so parking spaces at the Hanley Road Metro Station. It is an indication that people want to take transit but cannot do so from their homes. A similarly located metro station in a city with good transit would not even likely have a car parking lot, much less one for 2000 autos. That’s the difference.
            You say I am in the minority but that we can and should do a better job at planning, yet how can anyone buy or choose another option when no other options are available?

            You’re essentially saying everyone buys crap and since that is all that is available to buy, ergo crap is what everyone wants.
            Nor am I selling anything, I am talking about city planning principles that derive from ancient times and that many cities around the globe apply with varying degrees of success. It is not about me and what i want in any way.

            Let me ask you, how about a square in a medieval city with a church, a weekend market and a number of roads running into the square, do you think that square ended up there by accident?

          • JZ71 says:

            You may view it as excusing mediocrity, I view it as acknowledging reality. And yes, it is a chicken-or-egg conundrum – density and transit need each other to succeed. For whatever reason(s), however, public transit, here, is embraced by fewer people than in many other cities around the country, to say nothing of around the world. Both Metro and the federal government has invested heavily in light rail, yet there is little evidence that it has spurred much new development or investment (TOD) at most stations. The vast majority of bus service is provided inside the I-270/I-255 loop, yet a major chunk of the regional population lives outside the loop – if it’s not there, how can you use it?! Given that reality, most people (grudgingly? willingly?) embrace the single-occupant vehicle as either their sole or their primary form of transportation. This reality informs any planning for real uses and real projects. Planning for transit, when transit isn’t happening or won’t be happening for several decades, at the earliest, is simply an exercise in futility or mental masturbation.

            So, to answer your closing question – did the square end up there by accident? No, of course not! It ended up there in the same way that IKEA is landing at L-64 & Vandevetter, the same way South County Mall ended up at Lindbergh & I-55, the same way the Apple Store ended up at the Galleria and the same way the World’s Fair ended up in Forest Park. People saw a need, defined the need, created a plan and implemented a solution. Public transit, parking, freeway access and demographics all played a part in each decision, and each decision reflects different (and, many times, evolving) priorities for the people who are actually SPENDING THEIR MONEY! Like you, I have many ideas about how things can be done better; unlike you, I respect everyone’s right to make poor choices.

          • gmichaud says:

            Fewer people embrace transit in St. Louis because transit has developed in a way that is not included in urban planning. Its pretty simple really, lousy design affects outcomes, including transit ridership.

            And please, the money arguments don’t hold water. How do you explain commercial development in well designed cities? Ikea doesn’t design the surrounding city. It is, or should be, a community discussion on how to build a city in a reasonable and viable manner.

            The notion that whoever has the most money gets to call the shots in city development is backwards, that attitude is the way St. Louis has been run for decades and its path is a proven failure.

            Instead of a discussion trying to find potential solutions to build a more harmonious environment you seem to prefer no discussions of solutions at all and want to let capitalist run wild rather than make decisions in the public interest.
            This is also is what the building of a public square in the medieval town is about, it is in the public interest, to enhance their quality of life with a public square. It is not an Ikea style development as you suggest.
            It’s not you respect everyone’s right to make poor choices, you worship money over all else, damn the consequences to society.

          • JZ71 says:

            Until we fix our transit it’s going to be very difficult to change suburban mindsets.

          • moe says:

            Are you just upset that Ikea is building in the City when they normally build in the suburbs? JZ is correct. Decisions are based on complex and every changing values. In 5 years, Ikea maybe sold/bankrupt and it will be an empty shell…then will all the fans be?
            As for your church in the square….nice way to skewer bits and pieces to fit your view. Public interest? enhance quality of life? ROFLMAO. The only interest it served was the church’s. Control and money. They cared little for the quality of life of the common people.

          • gmichaud says:

            Moe your whole post is telling me what I think. I really don’t need any help, thank you. I live in Tower Grove South, so I have no problem of Ikea in the City.
            And as far as the church in the square, so you’re laughing your ass off huh? Is that because that’s what you are? Your knowledge of what you talking about is very rudimentary at best. Read just about anywhere in Gutkinds International History of City Development (8 volumes) and you will find the public square used throughout history as an urban planning tool. For instance there is an old map of Tours, France in the late middle ages showing 3 squares. But I guess you are not really interested in facts or a discussion are you?

          • moe says:

            You seem to think that every city has been planned out yet ignore the influences that society, politics, and economics have played into those roles and which came first….the planning or the influences. Chicken or egg. Chicken or egg.
            Well good luck convincing everyone that we should be just like Stockholm if you can’t even convince just the few readers here that care to comment, much less the ones that read and don’t comment…..oh that’s right…we, the taxpayers, should just bow to the “planners” That’s your “mak(ing) decisions in the public interest.” Ah, thanks but no thanks, I’ll go with JZ’s “I have many ideas about how things can be done better; unlike you, I respect everyone’s right to make poor choices.”

          • gmichaud says:

            Once again you try to tell me what I am thinking and what I know. No I don’t think every city has been planned out, not by a long shot. Nor did I say anything about bowing to the planners, in fact I think the best planning systems include heavy public involvement. (Do you want to discuss the mechanisms of a few cities that I think do a pretty good job of doing this, of course not) And where did I ever say we should be just like Stockholm?, I gave examples that I know about from research, you know, ideas for discussion and debate, what Steve’s Urban Review is supposed to be about.

            Fine if you want to whine about money and love the mediocrity of the current city and region, go for it, please don’t include me.

            Look at what you wrote, just bitching, nothing constructive.

          • moe says:

            Lets compare Boston to St. Louis. I chose two random rail lines, one in St. Louis and one in Boston.

            St. Louis: Downtown out to the Shrewsbury station is approximately 9.3 miles and contains 2749 spots along the way or 295 spots per mile.

            Boston: North Station out to Swampscott is 11.92 miles….contains 2558 parking spots or 214 spots per mile. (or 2558/9.3=275 spots)
            Also…Boston’s operation are covered by 31% fairbox, 69% state funding. Whereas with St. Louis Metro, 74% of operating revenue is from “transit passengers and local taxes.

            Given the population density of St. Louis and Boston, Boston has almost double the population in only 2/3 the square miles. I think we can agree that with a higher population density, there should be less drivers parking and riding transit so why then does Boston have similar parking ‘issues’ as St. Louis does at roughly 280/290 parking spots per commuter rail mile? And St Louis does a much better job of supporting it’s transit locally.

            Just putting this out there for thought….

          • dempster holland says:

            There is now a chance to integrate rapid transit into the mckee plan. With much of the
            land vacent, a cut and cover subway could be implemented now, at least from just north of downtown to Natural Bridge and Jefferson/Grand. Doing this of course, would require
            leadership on the part of the city and cooperation by EastWest and Metro: an unlikely
            probability This would be a key part of the proposed north-south line

          • moe says:

            You overlooked just one little thing: $$$$. Metro’s budget is already maxed and so is the City’s and those parts of the County. So where is the dollars going to come from? Don’t get me wrong, I would agree that now is the time, but unfortunately no one has 100 Million plus lying around. And I don’t think the politicians can sell this until work is well underway or they risk having it labeled a bridge to nowhere (which it might be….we all wait for projects to get started there).

          • moe says:

            My spelling bad….where are, not where is.

          • JZ71 says:

            Like Moe said, $$$$$. And why should we even think about a “cut and cover subway”?! It would cost at least twice as much as at-grade light rail, three times as much as a streetcar or 4-5 times as much as BRT! Do you want 2 miles of subway, 3 miles of Metrolink, 6 miles of streetcars or 8-10 miles of BRT? Public transit is all about meeting the public’s transportation needs, not about satisfying some rail lover’s fantasies. Spend the money on transit people can see and run it frequently (every 5-10 minutes) and 20+ hours a day.

          • dempster holland says:

            I recommend the subway for this portion of the proposed north-south line, since it would
            presumably go through a dense area if the mckee plan reaches fruition. West of Grand
            the line would presumably be on grade along Natural Bridge As to dollars, I was reading
            the materials promulgated by the most recent sales tax proponents (about three years
            ago) and they projected planning for the first light rail extension would already be under
            way by 2013 with construction to start in the next several years Further as to cost, the
            purpose of a light rail line is to act as a trunk line serving a large area on either side of the
            route. It is designed to replace a number of buses and therefore lower operating costs

          • JZ71 says:

            There are two separate issues, light rail (or, more likely, streetcar) and subway. I’m with you, public transit should be planned for and integrated into the Northside Regeneration project. I just don’t see much need for putting rail (or buses) under ground. It would be way more expensive, it could easily be viewed as “out of sight, out of mind” and the goal should be an integrated SYSTEM, not just one new line!

          • dempster holland says:

            I see the north-south line as part of the system outlined in the plan presented to and
            approved by the voters in 2010, eg, westport extension, south county extension, flor-
            issant extension possible rail commuter to eureka and alton. A subsystem within
            the near north side would route bus lines used partially as feeders to light rail
            stations and partially as regular bus lines The light rail system is designed to sub-
            stantially reduce trip time in long trips within the metro area. Finally, with some ex-
            ceptions, I do not think any transit is feasible outside of the 270 outer belt (with the
            exception of rail commuter and bus rapid arterial routes)

          • gmichaud says:

            I think that is right, there is a chance to integrate transit into the McKee Plan now. First thing though, forget about money, it is impossible to come up with an ideal urban solution if all discussions are predicated on money.
            In fact the mantra money, intentional or not, is shorthand for keep your mouth shut.

            A discussion of Northside possibilities is definitely lacking. In fact solutions with the resources available are possible also. Whenever a new road or bridge is desired those 100 million dollars seem to be everywhere, strange isn’t it?
            The City governance should already have framework in place for developers, they don’t, but they have to start sometime.
            As a society we would be foolish to allow another suburban enclave be built in what should be an urban area, an energy efficient area that is walkable and has easy access to transit.
            A type of walkable and transit friendly environment would likely be in demand if done right. In fact there is no where in St. Louis that has that environment other than in fragmented areas.
            There is no debate, that is unquestionable.
            As for as East West Gateway and Metro being unlikely participants. The only thing I would say to that is this is still a government of, by, and for the people.

          • moe says:

            Wow….you claim that I am telling you what you know and thinking when I am merely pointing out the realities. And the realities are $$$$. $$$$ weren’t available when the County didn’t pass the transit tax and busses had to be cut back until threat of Chesterfield(and places west of 270) being workerless became a nightmare thought. $$$$ weren’t available for years to build the Stan Span, and even when approved, it was barely approved. It’s nice to throw fairy dust at the wall and dream big. Sure, I would have loved having 50, 60 plus storied buildings downtown. I would love to be able to be on a train and be in New York in 8 hours. Sure I would love Lambert to be as it was in the 80’s. I would love it if St. Charles was still farmland. But you and a few others seem to think that $$$$ will mysteriously appear because ‘ooooh, this is the project of the month’….like the Loop trolley, or SLU trolley. Or a host of other fave projects that are gathering dust on the shelves of politicians and academia. But if you think the voters are going to approve hundreds of millions to build dedicated transit lines in what is basically crime-ridden farm land, you need a check up. Especially if you think St. Charles, Fairview, Jefferson County, etc voters are going to step right in and tax themselves to provide something that they see no value in and will in most likelihood, never use. Metro couldn’t even build a simple extension without going 100+ million over budget. Not to mention the societal, economic, and political views have changed in just the past few years. THESE are the realities. And St. Louis isn’t the only city hunting for dollars. (an off note…I find interesting the total lack of discussion on the recent HUD reviews of Block Grants and their implications for City development (https://www.stlbeacon.org/#!/content/30999/blockgrant_funding_change_analysis) )
            “A type of walkable and transit friendly environment would likely be in demand if done right’….again, done right to who, to what end? Make driving a car all but impossible a.k.a. downtown NYC? That’ll get the voters behind you.
            I get it. WE all want a more viable, pedestrian friendly (and active) AREA (not just the City, though some are stuck on that thought). You and yours’ come from the view of build it first, then they’ll come/use it/support it. But there are just as many, if not more so, that say show the demand first, then we will build it.

          • JZ71 says:

            Moe, I agree with your first two paragraphs, but have a clarification/modification to your third – it’s not so much that the idealists insist on build it and they will come, it’s that they continue to insist that we should do nothing unless we can do the perfect solution. Every city, even places like Helsinki, Stockholm and Toronto, has many parts that are suburban, “stupid” or worse. Every dense, walkable area started off less dense and got more dense as smaller structures were demolished and replaced with larger, more-expensive structures because of market demand. The dynamic we need to address, in much of the city, is that structures are being demolished and being replaced with either smaller structures or nothing at all! This isn’t a planning problem, it’s a market problem. We get Quik Trips and fast food places because they make more economic sense than corner bars and corner markets or mid-rise mixed-use structures on the corners they’re on. The old, 1-2 story corner retail generates significantly less revenue and the mid-rise mixed-use costs a lot more to build. The land is relatively cheap, so the cost of putting down asphalt isn’t prohibitive. We get “better” in the CWE not because of brilliant planning, we get denser because of strong market demand – dense employment at the hospitals, wealthy residential enclaves and a strong market for retail spaces all drive up land values. The basic street grid hasn’t changed much in 100 years (much like the rest of the city), nor has the underlying zoning. What has changed is what is happening on the private property, with money being spent and invested by individual property owners. Money talks!

          • moe says:

            Agreed…and you don’t hear the ‘idealist’ complain about how just 20/30 years ago the BJC complex use to be bustling with pedestrians Walking (that’s with a capital W) north and south along that stretch of Euclid (Clayton to Forest Park Blvd). Now that the Metro station is there…people arrive, get off and go immediately inside the building and then walk to their station. What use to be an area of multiple employers and a vibrant sidewalk life with potential for an extension of ground floor retail is now just walls and people rushing to get inside a single employer with no retail….but don’t dare question BJC, for they can do no wrong (at the taxpayer expense).
            Or for all their complaining about Darth Biondi and how he’s ‘destroyed’ the mid-town area with his seemingly imperfect plans seem to gloss over that fact that if he wasn’t dedicated to improving mid-town for his university, Ikea would be being built out in Chesterfield.

          • gmichaud says:

            As much as you claim everything is about money and demand I don’t think you really understand how capitalism works. For instance take the ipad and Apple. People sitting at their computers in the 1990’s didn’t keep calling Apple asking for a new tablet and then after Apple received a couple hundred thousand calls said well looks like there is enough demand now, we should build a tablet.
            Apple, like so many companies, spend millions of dollars on product development that they think, but are not sure, there will be a demand for. In addition millions more a made on improvements of existing products to make them more desirable.
            In the same way city planning is a process of innovation of ideas and presenting to the public different approaches that can make the city a more desirable and attractive place to live. Not all will work, but as with Apple it is possible to take an educated guess as to what will succeed.
            Companies copied the ipad tablet to cash in on the demand they didn’t know existed until Apple came out with the ipad.

            In the same way city planners have both centuries of city planning to review and can also look at other cities today to help devise urban planning schemes that can become successful.
            And then you use labels, like idealist, to pin on anyone who doesn’t agree with your regressive views. In fact it seems like your whole stable of opinions are designed to cut off any discussion and demean the individual who dares express views different than yours. You dismiss anyone who proposes anything that involves the actual improvement of living conditions and the human usability of the city.
            My view of money is that it is a human construct, a tool. the city is also a human construct, the difference is that we actually live our lives in the city.
            At this point I am disgusted. I have better things to do than listen to what I consider nothing more than you and your friends playing games of one-upmanship instead of making efforts to discuss opportunities or possibilities in the urban environment.
            Everyone knows money is a factor, that is a given. What is not a given are the possible solutions to the urban dysfunction in the St. Louis region.

          • Moe says:

            And you expect the voters to just turn over the reigns of their city, be it St. Louis, Chesterfield or St. Charles to people that can’t even explain their position? Talk about cutting off dialogue….you do a pretty good job of that.
            But FYI…cities are not like Apple iPads. (hint there is this whole thing called marketing and creating demand)

          • JZ71 says:

            I understand very well how capitalism works – individuals risk their own money on new and wonderful ideas or risk their own money to deliver goods and/or services the public desires and is willing to pay for. Those that do it right, succeed. Some even get rich. Those that don’t, fail. The same goes for how cities evolve, grow, densify, and, sometimes, fade away.

            As far as the “demeaning” part, do you not consider yourself to be an idealist? Do you view that term as a negative? I consider myself to be a pragmatist – I don’t find either term to be either demeaning or derogatory. Finally, this post is about a highway project located well outside the city limits. Do you think that it happened in a vacuum? That there were no plans? That the public was not involved? Local government? Local planning agencies?! Just because you don’t agree with the outcome doesn’t mean that there weren’t multiple opportunities “to discuss opportunities or possibilities in the urban environment.’ What you view as “urban dysfunction”, many others view as life as they want to live it!

          • dempster holland says:

            you question whether voters will approve building transit in what is farmland, referring,
            I assume to the mckee project. But the fact is in the 2010 sales tax increase the pro-
            motional plan included light rail extensions and one right through the mckee project area (the
            north-south line). As to the $100M overrun on the shrewsbury extension, no one ever doc-
            umented the reason, but I suspect that much of the overrun was because neighbor-
            hood opposition forced a change from on grade to subway from Skinker to Forsyth. Finally
            a light rail system becomes more useful on each line as other lines are buiilt and the pro-
            posed total light rail plan is not a plan of academics or ploiticians but transit planners

          • gmichaud says:

            Dempster I think you are asking the right questions. Discussions of urban forms like grids could be book length. As far as a subway going North, what probably needs to happen is an understanding of a comprehensive transit system and the role of the line from downtown to Natural Bridge and Jefferson/Grand within that system. Projected and actual urban densities play a role in all of this. You seem to indicate you know something about what McKee plans to do? I have seen very little.
            In design it is far better to brainstorm and work conceptually than have concerns about money. After ideal solutions are reached is when you contend with implementation and/or modifications. It is the best way to arrive at the most dynamic solution.
            Nor can partial privatization of transit be discounted. Hong Kong and Oulu, Finland are a couple of cities that have partially privatized transit systems. And of course early St. Louis and much of the transit across America was private before it was ever public. So innovation can happen in many areas. It is a deficiency of discussion and creativity that is the problem, not a lack of money.

            I do believe it is important to focus on the city proper and only maintain, not enhance lines to the greater region for now. The grid gives St. Louis City a fighting chance for success. If the City cannot formulate a transit system that works well, it is highly unlikely the spread out and erratically planned counties in both Illinois and Missouri can have any chance of creating viable and comprehensive transit outcomes.

      • Eric5434 says:

        “And have you ever noticed that when one mentions St. Louis sprawl, they
        immediately point to St. Charles. They forget to look across the river
        to the East.”

        Sprawl to the east is less of a problem for the region. It is in our interest that the center of the region be in downtown St Louis, not in say Maryland Heights. Someone who moves to Illinois might someday be willing to take transit to a downtown job. Someone who lives in Lake St Louis never will.

        We can’t tell people to live. But if we hadn’t funded the Page extension, many people who now live in St Charles county sprawl would have found it more convenient to move to Illinois sprawl instead, where commutes would be easier. This would have been to our benefit. We also would have saved lots of money as well as a park.

        • JZ71 says:

          “It is in our interest that the center of the region be in downtown St Louis, not in say Maryland Heights.” Why?! Because we live in the city? If you lived in Maryland Heights or Chesterfield, you could very well make the statement that “It is in our interest that the center of the region be in Clayton” or Chesterfield or Florissant – it’s all one of local perspective and prejudices!

          • Eric5434 says:

            I don’t live in the city, never have. I’ve only lived in St Louis County.

            It’s in our interest because the city already has many urban qualities that Maryland Heights or Chesterfield will never have unless they are razed and completely built from scratch – which won’t happen. Even Clayton is much worse than the city as a center – for one thing, it has much less for growth.

          • JZ71 says:

            And in today’s Post-Dispatch is the crux of the problem: “Ehlmann criticizes newly minted regional plan” . . . .

          • moe says:

            As usual, like other plans….a day late and a dollar short. It’s already outdated if it’s not addressing educational issues.. But this article could have been summed up with the republican motto: We’ve got ours, screw the rest of you. And we’re going to keep ours while lowering taxes paid which means the rest of you will get less services.

          • moe says:

            And as I watch House Hunters International (at least they show what daily life is like overseas)…again showing a couple wanting to live in Europe…this time Paris… and except for major downtowns where real estate and rentals are sky high, the suburbs are just like ours….parking on the streets, sometimes even parking on the sidewalks….and no pedestrians or very, very few out and about.

          • gmichaud says:

            I don’t think European suburbs are the same as American. I know outside the Helsinki city core in the suburbs I was surprised at how suburban it looked, however closer examination showed that transit served all of these suburban areas in a sensible way and also those suburban areas are generally more walkable than comparable American suburbs.

            There are other subtle variations that you might not notice in fly over. Most European countries regulate the location, size and presence of box stores and large malls due to their destructive impact on communities and neighborhoods

            A good article which gives an overview these issues in Europe and how Europe has modified the American model can be found in the article “Resistance” by Judy Chung in the Harvard Design School, Project on the City, Guide to Shopping, edited by Rem Koolhaas.

            The debate on how to find viable design solutions that serve people has been far more vigorous in Europe than in the US.

            I just don’t think with a closer look that you’ll find it’s apples to apples when comparing development in Europe vs the US over the past 5 or 6 decades. There are significant differences.

            You mention Paris, pull maps of the bus and the trains and look at the transit coverage compared to St. Louis. Of course the flip side of this is you have to have a suburban development model that works in conjunction with transit.

          • moe says:

            Again…reread my posts. I’ve complained about the constant comparison to European cities, as if they are some beacon we should all aspire to be like….but when one looks closely, they are just the same as American cities. The biggest differences are the type of governments vs ours (and the history of such) combined with territorial rights. If East St. Louis or St. Charles were in another country, do you think the sprawl would have been so freehanded? I think not.
            In your example to JZ of the church in the square….that didn’t happen by accident and it didn’t happen because people got together and voted for it. It’s all about power, consolidation, and society issues which are not possible in today’s environment. (i.e. people do not live on farms and only go to the city once or twice a week or at harvest, they don’t go and worship the same God under threat of death, and a host of other issues.)

          • gmichaud says:

            Actually we can discuss Asian cities also. How about Hong Kong or Seoul or Tokyo? Hong Kong has blanketed its Northern territories with transit as part of “suburban” development.
            In fact I think you can make a blanket statement that most cities in the world outside of the US generally try to integrate transit with development.

            As far as the medieval square, cities still build public spaces such as this today. Both Helsinki and Stockholm have done so in the same recent time frame St. Louis has declined. And yes there is all kinds of forces on cities all over the world. The quality of the art and design of a city ultimately is impacted many ways, but planning principles are the same around the world. The problem with St. Louis is that it is a free for all with little attempt to make sense of the whole.

            But your assertion that European cities are the same as American is completely false. I have cited references above if you have read my previous post, I can cite many more, if you are really interested.

          • moe says:

            A city is a city.

    • dempster holland says:

      There are about 1.4 million people living in St Louis and St Charles counties. Even if enough people
      were attracted back to St Louis city to raise its current population of 325,000 to its past peak of
      850,000, that would still leave nearly 900,000 people in St Louis and St Charles counties. Urban
      sprawl is to a great extent, simple population growth

      • John R says:

        What I might call “natural sprawl” is indeed induced in large part by population growth. Unfortunately our sprawl has been in large part due to abandonment of our core and our region’s population growth has been much slower than the national average. If we were healthier, we’d have 1.5 million – 2 million in our Saint Louis City/County core plus the outlying growth.

        • dempster holland says:

          I would add the further point that a substantial part of the abandonment of the urban
          core is the movement out of small, crowded housing units in old multi-family buildings.
          This movement meant a net increase in housing standards for tens of thousands of
          St Louisans and therefore must be considered a good thing, even though by further
          decentralizing the population it contributed to urban sprawl. Many who decry urban
          sprawl themselves live in nice, old single family houses in the city–not an available
          option to the many persons who moved out of old areas into better accomodations.

  4. dempster holland says:

    For those who decry the bad aspects of urban sprawl the next question would be what changes would
    you make in the existing suburbia? Would you impose a rectangular grid? Would you modify zoning
    laws to eliminate large lot zoning? Would you allow retail stores to be located anywhere? ETC. I have
    heard few suggestions on how to make these changes, even if the public wanted them done

    • moe says:

      Phoenix uses rectangular grids….and the only thing stopping urban sprawl is Mother Nature and mountains.

    • gmichaud says:

      Dempster, hope you are still following this tread. Try Great Streets by Allan Jacobs, I’ve checked, it’s in the City library. It is a book that is about street patterns as well as individual streets, there is a large section of the book devoted to full page images of street systems of major cities, many are not grid, on the other hand many American cities are grid until you hit the suburbs. Pompeii was a grid, cities like Tokyo and Seoul are grids. His book only covers one aspect (valuable) part of the discussion. For instance transit and movement systems, other than pedestrian, are not examined in any great detail.

      As for as how to make the changes. San Francisco has a nice system.


      But I think the City of London Unitary Plan offers another possible solution that may be better.


      This is the 2002 Plan, Steve has mentioned in the past there is a new plan to replace this, the Core Statregy (also available at the link above) I have a hard copy of the Unitary Plan directly before the 2002 plan, so I am not sure of all the changes, but the detail doesn’t really matter now as much as the concepts inherent to the approach.

      Basically it is a set of strategic goals and preferences for development in different categories such as transport and movement, environmental quality, housing, shopping and services and so on.
      In the words of the Unitary Development Plan.

      “The UDP is essential to provide a consistent framework for the many planning decisions which the Corporation takes on development applications, infrastructure provision, environmental improvements and co-ordination with other authorities. It provides guidance to those proposing development and so reduces uncertainty.”

      Basically the UDP lets developers know what they can do and on the other end provides the governance framework for approving projects so they fit into a greater whole.
      On one hand it gives developers a good deal flexibility, and on the other the public has a document that is a guide to making the city a better place. Certainly this approach would be a vast, vast improvement over what the City of St. Louis does now (which is basically nothing) As far as St. Louis County and beyond, the format could be useful also, depending on what they are trying to accomplish.


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