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Duncan Ave From CORTEX Commons To IKEA, Now Less Hostile

Last week I showed you the CORTEX Commons in my post CORTEX Commons Attractive, Has Accessibility Issues. That green space, and my post, ended at Duncan Ave. Today I’ll show you changes to Duncan Ave as we head East toward the new IKEA which opens next week. In December 2013 I posted: Cortex District Needs A Pedestrian Circulation Plan Before IKEA Is Built.  Below are two images from that 2013 post, along with the original captions:

Current site plan doesn't show pedestrian access from the south side of Duncan Ave., intersection at Sarah needs to be addressed to connect IKEA to MetroLink.
Current site plan doesn’t show pedestrian access from the south side of Duncan Ave., intersection at Sarah needs to be addressed to connect IKEA to MetroLink.
Looking east from in front of the grain silo toward the future IKEA. A sidewalk exists currently.
Looking east from in front of the grain silo toward the future IKEA. A sidewalk exists currently.

In 2013 I was focused on the horrible intersection of Duncan & Sarah and getting into the IKEA site. The odd configuration made it horrible for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.

May 2012 -- looking East across Sarah from the South side of Duncan.
May 2012 — looking East across Sarah from the South side of Duncan.

Thankfully, this has been addressed, as you’ll see later.

I’ve posted about Duncan before, two times West of Boyle. In May 2013: Duncan Sidewalk Fixed, Crosswalk at Newstead Still A Problem and July 2012: Duncan Ave Sidewalk A Challenge Because Of Solae’s 2008 Construction. After the 2012 post the sidewalk got fixed, but I don’t think Duncan & Newstead has been corrected. In recent months there was utility work  going on here, I need to return to see if accessibility has been addressed.

Today let’s start at Boyle and the CORTEX Commons — and head East to IKEA.

Looking East across Boyle on the North side of Duncan in April 2015
Looking East across Boyle on the North side of Duncan in April 2015
Trees planted in the parking lane on the South side of Duncan in front of the @4240 building, also April 2015
Trees planted in the parking lane on the South side of Duncan in front of the @4240 building, also April 2015
This similar view from Sept 11th shows the plants have matured, the parking paving is permeable.
This similar view from Sept 11th shows the plants have matured, the parking paving is permeable. If you look closely you can see the side of IKEA’s big blue box at the end of the sidewalk.
A little further East. In St. Louis this is a very generous sidewalk, in Chicago it would be on the smaller side. Still, I like that it is so open.
A little further East. In St. Louis this is a very generous sidewalk, in Chicago it would be on the smaller side. Still, I like that it is so open.
Back on the North side we can see how the trees break up the line of parked cars.
Back on the North side we can see how the trees break up the line of parked cars.
Looking back West toward Boyle, the North side didn't get the same treatment with street trees.
Looking back West toward Boyle, the North side didn’t get the same treatment with street trees.
During my visit on the 11th work was still ongoing on the South side of Duncan just before Sarah
During my visit on the 11th work was still ongoing on the South side of Duncan just before Sarah
Part of the work is on the adjacent site where this massive US Metals building used to be.
Part of the work is on the adjacent site where this massive US Metals building used to be. View from Sarah, May 2012
The former office on Sarah was also razed, which is a shame. May 2012.
The former office on Sarah was also razed, which is a shame. May 2012.
Ok, so we're back on Duncan facing East. Because the sidewalk was out on the South we're on the North.
Ok, so we’re back on Duncan facing East. Because the sidewalk was out on the South we’re on the North.
As we approach Sarah we can see it looks different than before
As we approach Sarah we can see it looks different than before
Before we look at Sarah, a look back West on Duncan
Before we look at Sarah, a look back West on Duncan
Now looking East across Sarah
Now looking East across Sarah
Here's the May 2012 photo from before so you can compare them, The tall wall is gone and the traffic flow shifted.
Here’s the May 2012 photo from before so you can compare them, The tall wall is gone and the traffic flow shifted.
Turning South we can now see how Sarah curves
Turning South we can now see how Sarah curves
This view looking North from the East side of Sarah shows how Sarah now curves to the right for a conventional intersection at Duncan
This view looking North from the East side of Sarah shows how Sarah now curves to the right for a conventional intersection at Duncan
Looking East after crossing Sarah
Looking East after crossing Sarah
Getting closer
Getting closer
The sidewalk on the South side of Duncan ends, but a crosswalk point to the North is provided
The sidewalk on the South side of Duncan ends, but a crosswalk point to the North is provided
Looking North, the crosswalk wasn't marked on my visit but paint crews were working on site. This would've been an excellent spot for a raised crosswalk.
Looking North, the crosswalk wasn’t marked on my visit but paint crews were working on site. This would’ve been an excellent spot for a raised crosswalk.
Looking back West.
Looking back West.

Monday next week I’ll take a closer look at the various pedestrian access points to IKEA St. Louis, as well as a peak inside!

Duncan Ave is bookended by BJC hospital just West of Taylor, and IKEA just East of Sarah — about a mile total in length — the pedestrian experience is highly inconsistent and doesn’t begin to approach friendly. Yet, this is the mile stretch the CORTEX Master Plan says should be pedestrian-friendly, the primary East-West means for pedestrian circulation.  At best it’s less hostile in a few spots than it was a few years ago.

— Steve Patterson

 

Currently there are "11 comments" on this Article:

  1. Steven Simpson-Black says:

    St. Louis seems to share the same tired philosophy when it comes to development: “Well, what do you expect–it’s better than what was there!” Ugh. We gotta change that mindset.

     
  2. gmichaud says:

    I have to agree that the attitude of its better than nothing is wrong. The Cortex area not only could have addressed global warming concerns but also pushed St. Louis to new heights in city planning. Instead it is as Steven Simpson-Black says, basically the Cortex area appears to be, now and in the future, little more than a minor improvement in the St Louis mindset. It’s still auto’s all the time as far as I can see.
    This is why St. Louis is not advancing as a city. The question should be asked, “what would St Louis City transit and physical environment look like if 60 percent of the citizens didn’t even own cars”. Many other cities accomplish that feat, it is not like it is unheard of.
    St Louis keeps falling further behind, I expect Detroit city to eclipse St. Louis at some point in the near future.
    But hey, as long as the insiders get to keep their free parking spaces at Lambert Airport, that’s all that matters right?

     
    • Fozzie says:

      Again, you embarrass yourself by thinking that the auto — not horrible public schools, a shrinking job market, or rampant underemployment — is holding the area back.

       
      • gmichaud says:

        You can’t seem to make a comment without insulting the person you are responding to. I would attempt to discuss your comment, but I won’t waste my breath, you could care less about dialogue and knowledge, only insults. Actually it is quite clear you are a very immature and disturbed individual, you might consider seeking professional help.

         
        • Fozzie says:

          Takes one to know one, Mr. Poopy Head.

          You might need professional help if you construe my comment as insulting. It’s quite clear you are emotionally fragile.

          You don’t want to have a discussion anyway since the foundation of every argument you make is that politicians and developers are all idiots. Knowledge, no — misguided opinions, yes.

           
    • JZ71 says:

      In which American cities do “60 percent of the[ir] citizens [don’t] even own cars”?! I can think of a couple of dense urban cores where this may be the case (along with several on other continents), but when looked at by SMSA’s or by state, that’s far, far from the truth: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_vehicles_per_capita . . And I’m truly surprised that Colorado came in last, at 340 vehicles per 1,000 residents (34%) – might have something to do with a large federal prison population and a major transient military presence. In comparison, New York comes in at 57% and Missouri comes in at 83%, while Wyoming comes in first, at 114% . . . ahh, the joys of statistics! And this probably has better data: http://www.governing.com/gov-data/car-ownership-numbers-of-vehicles-by-city-map.html . . . Finally, the real metric should be vehicles per houshold (and households with no vehicles), since some people are too young (or too old or disabled) to “own” a car, yet have ready access to one (or more) through (an)other family member(s).

       
      • gmichaud says:

        Not American, actually I misspoke, I meant to say 60 percent that own cars, but I didn’t realize until after I posted, in any case I was thinking of Helsinki, which is a good city to compare with St. Louis despite obvious differences. The big thing is the population of the metro area is about the same as St. Louis which throws out only mega cities can do transit properly idea.
        The real point I was making is even though Cortex is a step ahead of most of development in St. Louis it is still nothing more the autocentric light. There was an opportunity for the city to really tighten up its urban planning at this location, but we get a lot of flash and not much of a real urban balancing of the auto, pedestrians and transit.
        That is all we are really talking about here, is making sure that pedestrians and transit have equal access to the city, which for the most part is not the case now except perhaps in older areas of the city built before the auto gripped the nation.
        Underlying all of this is that St. Louis is falling behind, not only with international cities, but now many American cities also. The fact is, for the most part automobiles and their users don’t care what is the configuration of the environment, however that same configuration is essential to successful pedestrian and transit use which are very sensitive to large open spaces like parking lots and so on. (Not to mention bicycles, which really should be an important part of any transit discussion).
        In short Helsinki, with a similar population, has had a more disciplined and focused planning and transit program (with bicycles an important part) when compared to a far more sloppy St Louis.
        And the results we can observe: a declining population in the city, along with a decline in economics and general desirability of city living.
        Good urban planning is not a magic solutions to problems, but without it failure or poor results are likely.

         
          • gmichaud says:

            Thanks for the link, interesting as you say. Although the amount of car ownership does not mean people won’t take transit anyway even if they own a car. I think it is Stockholm where 80 per cent take transit to the city. And if you consider suburbs like Vallingby and Farsta outside Stockholm, I would be surprised if automobile ownership doesn’t reach 90 per cent.
            New York is especially dense, with little parking, no doubt driving down car ownership levels.
            Especially with climate change on the doorstep, it makes sense to maintain a balance of approaches. While I never have been to Berlin, all cities mentioned in the article offer pretty easy alternatives to the automobile.
            Designing for transit and pedestrians does not mean automobiles are any less important. That’s the fallacy.

            The problem with the East West Gateway Connected 2045 study is that it pretty well projects the current transit status quo into the St. Louis region for the next 30 years. It is an absurd thought nothing will change substantially.
            It is not only climate change, but establishing a higher quality of life we should be talking about. The debate is so neutered that Connected 2045 is the answer for whomever is calling the shots.
            Cortex and other proposals should be part of a larger ongoing discussion of how to build, or rebuild urban areas so they are made functional again with multi layer movement systems.
            And yes it costs money, so does a bomber, it just depends on what you want to do.
            But yeah, interesting article.

             
          • JZ71 says:

            I’m not anti-transit, I’m just a big believer in using the right tool for any job, and, with transit, creating a functioning SYSTEM. IF you work a set schedule and IF transit offers a decent schedule for commuting, then yes, absolutely, transit should be given serious consideration. And I agree, in St. Louis, the transit status quo offers liitle incentive for most people to consider using it. Saddle it with the rampant (mis)perception, especially with buses, that a) it’s for poor people, b) it’s for black people, and c) it’s not safe and you have a real challenge moving beyond the status quo. You can blame EWG for its (lack of) “planning”, but I’d argue that the plan just reflects our current (limited) financial capabilities and the compromised desires of most of the region’s leaders and residents.

            You and Steve may be rabidly pro-transit, but you all are a definite minority among most residents. Changing things is going to take many, many, small, incremental steps. Metro needs both better branding and a better route structure. If you want more density in redeveloping inner-ring suburbs and post-war parts of the city we can’t just say “you don’t get more viable transit until you get more density”! You can’t dismiss the lower density parts of the region from the transit equation if you truly want a viable transit SYSTEM. If fixed-route bus service won’t work (well), what will?! Park-and-Ride hubs? Demand-responsive service (Call-a ride)? Express buses for daily commuters?

            Cortex ain’t perfect, but it’s huge step in the right direction. It IS transit accessible (unlike all of St. Charles County, the Monsanto campus, Earth City, the Highway 40 corridor west of 270, and on and on. Steve got it right – the changes, here, ARE an improvement. Let’s recognize and celebrate them, no matter how small they may be. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time . . .

             
          • gmichaud says:

            I’m not pro transit as much as I am pro building cities for human beings. Transit is only one of many tools. As I said I agree Cortex is a step up in planning.
            I think the idea of incremental improvements has a number of facets, money is clearly one, but understanding what to do and how to act when the opportunity arises is another. With that the Cortex project still falls short in many ways.

            So when you look at for instance the Connected 2045 plan by East West Gateway they include only maintenance of the status quo in transportation for the next 3 decades. The people doing this report are supposed to be the transit planners for the region.

            There are at least three aspects to consider, global warming, economic development and building a higher quality city. These discussions are not a priority in St Louis.

            Even if monies are not immediately available it is difficult to know what can happen in the future. In other words leaving transit/city development out of the report except in the most generic terms says that they are projecting social, cultural and economical flat lining in the St. Louis region for the next 3 decades. (ie what would a full blown, effective transit system look like and what would it’s cost be over 3 decades)?

            Which gets back to Cortex, without vigorous and ongoing discussion about these issues, you end up with projects that have low standards because there are no standards that are to be considered anywhere city or region wide.

            Just about every successful city in the world has a viable mass transit system. And yes, you’re right, this should include planning for density to support transit. St. Louis has a big problem once you get out of the older city and suburbs. The sprawl is so serious, even if a bus line takes you somewhere, it is almost impossible to go any further. You certainly can’t become a pedestrian in most of these locations, in fact many areas of sprawl don’t even bother with sidewalks. (There are solutions, but that is another discussion)

            Here is a link to San Francisco Planning, if these 8 elements of a great neighborhood where asked of Cortex, maybe that could have inspired more rigorous design solutions. Certainly it begins to voice standards to consider when designing for humans.

            http://www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=1704

            I’ll put it this way, yes Cortex is a good development, but it should have been a great development, there is no excuse at this point for not assembling a premier pedestrian, transit (and yes auto) district.

            The Ikea site is totally autocentric for instance. There was no real need to site the building that way, it would have been easy to include pedestrian and transit interests. (I think nextSTL had an article about the site planning of IKEA at one point)

            Yes lets cheer, but this is serious business too, its our lives and future. Once these projects are built they are hard to modify.

             

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