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St. Louis May Be One of Few Cities in the World With an Elevated Bikeway

The message to the crowd was simple — the Great Rivers Greenway District already owns the old elevated railway trestle that runs from Hadley and Cass to the McKinley Bridge and they want to turn it into one of the world’s few elevated bikeway and walking trails. Inspiration comes from Paris’ Promenade Plantée and New York’s planned High Line.  Chicago and Philly are also working on similar projects.
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A good crowd (a “few” if KSDK were counting) gathered last Thursday evening at the Confluence Academy in Old North St. Louis to hear the early thoughts on the proposal. Questions centered around specifics and planners had to continue to remind everyone that this in the very beginning stages — no specifics are known other than what it is they own and control.

Paris and New York are the only two cities with elevated bikeways. Chicago is looking at doing the same thing but they don’t yet have control over the trestle they have in mind. The following are some of the images from the presentation:
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The idea is to have a bike path, a walking path, message boards, native greenery and to make creative use of the old supports for the electric wires that powered the old interurban lines.

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Some of the concepts they presented included wind, sun and rain collection.

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They hope to encourage adjacent buildings to add green roofs to improve the experience, reduce the heat island affect and reduce energy costs for those owners. Taller trellis’ would be added where necessary to prevent people from gaining access to roofs from the trestle.

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One idea they explored is to widen the trestle at a point or two to gain more “plaza” space and room for viewing.

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One nice thing is the prominent view from I-70. Greening up the trestle and incorporating signs would hopefully increase the curiosity of motorists.

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A small portion of the trestle is already being prepared for such a use — connecting to the soon to re-open McKinley bridge. This will give cyclists an easy route to Illinois.

One potential issue is the proposed Mississippi River Bridge — it would intersect with I-70 immediately south of where the trestle crosses. Although the clearance from the highway to the bottom of the trestle is fine, it does not meet current standards. MoDot is seeking Federal approval to allow for an exemption so the trestle can remain in place. Of course, no final design or funding has been worked out between Missouri and Illinois on this bridge so it is anyone’s guess when and if I every actually happens.

I’d like to see I-70 removed from the area between downtown and the arch but part of me doubts that would every actually get removed even if a new bridge for I-70 traffic was built. I’d like to see the MacArthur Bridge, located to the south of the Poplar Street Bridge, reopened to auto traffic, or perhaps as another bike/pedestrian bridge like the Chain of Rocks (the MacArthur still carries railroad traffic below the former auto deck).
Despite the potentially high cost, I think retaining these old industrial structures and reusing them for bike connection is a worthwhile pursuit. The connection with the wonderful North Riverfront trail at Branch Street would be great.

 

Collinsville Planning Commission Rules Against Commercial Zoning on Disputed Property

Last April I brought I did a post on an interesting dispute in Collinsville IL. In short, a developer bough a corner parcel that was a house at the entrance to a subdivision with one side of the land on an increasingly commercial street. At the time a city zoning map had apparently incorrectly noted the parcel as zoned commercial when it in fact remained residentially zoned. The developer wanted the zoning changed to commercial so they could build their planned retail store while the residents argued they did not want the edge & entrance of their residential area invaded in such a manner.

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The house purchased by the developer actually occupies two original residential building lots. The developer wanted to raze the existing structure. As you can see from the image above, the area is quite commercial but not in the immediate vicinity of that parcel. The Planning Commission ruled in favor of the residents at their long meeting last night. I was unable to attend but Diane Meyer has the low down at Respublica.   The next step is the City Council.

 

Cycling Organization Giving Away Kids Bike Helmets at Farmers Market

The St. Louis Regional Bike Federation will be holding an interesting event on the east side of the river Saturday morning:

Bike Smart – Edwardsville on Saturday, July 7
Join us on July 7 from 8:00 a.m. – noon at the Land of Goshen Farmers’ Market in downtown Edwardsville, IL for helmet fitting, bike education, and mechanical safety checks for your bike! Helmets First will be there offering 50 free helmets for kids. When the free helmets run out you can buy one for just $7! In addition St. Louis Recumbent Bicycles will provide a bicycle mechanic to check your bike and make minor repairs or adjustments and help you learn how to check your bike before you ride. We’ll have experienced riders on hand to answer your questions about bike commuting, riding safely in traffic, and your rights and responsibilities on the roads.

Bike helmets are very important for safety — having them properly fitted it critical.  I see way too many kids wearing helmets that are angled way back exposing their foreheads (some adults wear helmets this way too).  Please folks, check your helmet for proper fit — go to an event like this or go into nearly any bike shop and talk to them about how to properly adjust your helmet.

It looks like the Bike Fed already made an appearance at the Tower Grove market but I have suggested they do a fitting at the Old North St. Louis Farmers’ Market.

Happy eating and riding!

 

Collinsville IL May Finally Correct One-Way Main Street Mistake

Downtown Collinsville IL has some very handsome buildings and Main Street is perfectly scaled. The downtown is also near death and has been for years. Despite a streetscape makeover a few years ago, downtown has just not taken off as others have. The difference? Main St in Collinsville is one-way only.

From the Belleville News Democrat:

Business owners are as divided as the City Council on whether Main Street should go back to two-way after Illinois 159 is widened.

The City Council has discussed doing a $70,000 study, as the Illinois Department of Transportation needs to know whether to incorporate a two-way Main Street into its plans for Illinois 159 by January. Though some councilmen had not entirely made up their minds, the council is split on whether to proceed.

It’s the same with business owners, particularly retail businesses on the east end of Main Street. The street was made one-way eastbound in 1969, with neighboring Clay Street one-way westbound, creating the “Collinsville Loop.”

The linked article is a good read, it seems some still think this one-way traffic plan, nearly 40 years in place, is still a good idea. It is, in my view, a major part of what is holding back the potential of Collinsville.

Last September I spent some time in Collinsville on a lovely Saturday afternoon. That morning, downtown Edwardsville just a bit to the north, was hopping. Collinsvile, not so much. A recent visit was pretty much the same thing.

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Main street is one-way heading east. Walking on the sidewalk it feels like a highway, not a pedestrian-friendly place to be.

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Above, traffic on Main St. can continue east, most turns left for northbound 159.   The volume of traffic crossing Main St. from 159 is huge.  Proponents of returning Mainstreet to two-way traffic correctly cite the fact that 159 traffic is unable to turn onto the bulk of Main St.  What traffic Main St has feels mostly like a pass-through to get to 159.  Regardless of Main St being one or two-way, I’m afraid of how a widened 159 will be passed through downtown Collinsville.  Click here to see all 53 of my images from downtown Collinsville.

 

Madison County Transit Offers Free Rides, $10 Youth Summer Pass

The folks over at Madison County Transit (MCT) are trying to entice people to ride transit by offering free rides, a try it before you buy it sort of program.  From the press release:

With warm weather fast approaching, Madison County Transit (MCT) is gearing up for its annual Summer Youth Pass program by inviting Madison County youth and their parents to a free ride on a MCT bus from five separate locations throughout the county. These events, which will officially kick-off the Summer Youth Pass season will take place on Saturday May 5 and Saturday May 12:

  • Edwardsville Station: May 5, 2007 at 9:30 a.m.
  • Wood River Station: May 5, 2007 at 11:30 a.m.
  • Collinsville Station: May 12, 2007 at 9:00 a.m.
  • Granite City Station: May 12, 2007 at 11:00 a.m.
  • Alton Square: May 12, 2007 at 1:00 p.m.

Seems like an interesting way to get more riders.  MCT is a bus-only system servicing cities in Madison County and connecting into East St. Louis and Downtown St. Louis.  For more detail see the full press release.

 

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