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Sunday Poll: Rate The New Mississippi River Bridge

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

Years in the making, one year ago today Illinois & Missouri cut the ribbon on a new bridge over the Mississippi River at downtown St. Louis, officially named the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge.  The name, like everything about the project, is a compromise between interests in each state.

For budget reasons the bridge has fewer lanes than originally desired, in downtown it feeds into Tucker rather than a West bypass loop. Now that a year has past I’d like you to rate the overall bridge project. How did Illinois & Missouri do?

The exact question is: Rate the new Mississippi River Bridge (aka The Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge) based on your overall impression.

The 1-5 rating scale will be presented in random order, the poll is in the right sidebar on the desktop layout. The Sunday Poll closes at 8pm — 12 hours from now.  Note: your feelings for the late Stan Musial shouldn’t be a factor in your rating of this major infrastructure project.

— Steve Patterson

 

Market Open Across From Emerson Park Light Rail Station In East St. Louis

January 23, 2015 Featured, Metro East, Retail 1 Comment

St. Louis has had very little success with transit-oriented development since our original light rail line, MetroLink, opened in 1993. From the start the Emerson Park station in East St. Louis, which opened in May 2001, was different. The station includes some storefront space and around the station homes & apartments have been added over the years, a recent addition is Eco Jazz, see New Senior Housing A Bright Spot In East Saint Louis.

And a few months ago Jazz Ensemble Market opened for business:

Jazz Ensemble Market believes that food is the connection that brings us all together. When we sit at the dinner table, we share our moments with family, friends and food gives us opportunities to connect.

Serving the East St. Louis Community is our core business philosophy.  We are locally owned. Any purchase that is made in the store, stays in East St Louis. We are locally operated. All employees come from within East St. Louis. We are neighbors serving neighbors, the way it should be.

Our community involvement is vast. We are partnering with local vendors, local producers, local outreach groups to give each other a helping hand up. We are working with other local organizations to develop and implement solutions to their challenging problems.

Jazz Ensemble Market will never be on the side lines of the community.

For far too long East St. Louis has been a food insecure area, and we are the foundation to turn that around.

Let’s take a look…

The Jazz Ensemble Market as seen from the MetroLink platform, it opened last Fall in the ground floor of the new  Jazz at Walter Circle senior housing building
The Jazz Ensemble Market as seen from the MetroLink platform, it opened last Fall in the ground floor of the new Eco Jazz./Jazz at Walter Circle senior housing building
Looking toward the transit station from the market's door we see a WB train
Looking toward the transit station from the market’s door we see a WB train
Inside the market has a small deli
Inside the market has a small deli
Some produce near frozen foods
Some produce near frozen foods
More produce next to dairy
More produce next to dairy
Room for more produce!
Room for more produce!

The nearest larger grocery store is a Schnuck’s at 25th & State — a 1.5 mile/30 minute walk from the station.  The number of people walking to/from the market and station was encouraging. A seating area up front lets you enjoy your deli purchase while looking at the station, the free wi-fi let’s you stay connected.

This adds up to be a great subject for Good News Friday (#gnf)!

— Steve Patterson

 

NFL/MLS Stadium A Better Fit In St. Clair County Illinois

It was recently suggested by former St. Louis Mayor Vince Schoemehl that a new NFL/MLS stadium be built across the river in Illinois. Over the last few years I’ve thought this as well, regular reader & prolific commenter “JZ71” has mentioned several times building a stadium specifically between the approaches to the MLK & Eads bridges. It would be visible from downtown St. Louis and be located adjacent to an existing MetroLink light rail station. I’ve thought that was too tight but knew there’s lots of vacant land there awaiting new use.

In June I got married at the beautiful Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park — directly across from the Arch — maybe South of there? Or to the North of the MLK bridge approach? Looking at maps and serial images only gets you so far, so Saturday afternoon I drove around checking out the Metro East riverfront/bottoms.

I crossed the river on the Eads Bridge since it was direct, I quickly ruled out the land to the South of the Martin Memorial/geyser because of access issues and future CityArchRiver plans, wildlife, etc. So then I looked at the space between the Eads & MLK approaches — as I suspected it appears way too tight for a stadium with enough buffer to keep the bridges open game days.

Looking South on Front St with the MLK in the foreground, the Eads in the background, and the Arch to the right
Looking South on Front St with the MLK in the foreground, the Eads in the background, and the Arch to the right
Looking East from Front St, the MLK approach is to the left just out of view, the Eads approach on the right
Looking East from Front St, the MLK approach is to the left just out of view, the Eads approach on the right. Great location for a hotel(s) if a stadium were built to the North of the MLK
Just North of the MLK bridge approach
Just North of the MLK bridge approach, the land on the right is mostly vacant of structures
Looking East at a gravel road.  More on this later in this post.
Looking East at a gravel road. More on this later in this post.
East St. Louis Police shooting range head
East St. Louis Police shooting range head
Presumably this 80 year old pumping station is still operational
Presumably this 80 year old pumping station is still operational
Very quickly the new SMVMB is in view past the levee
Very quickly the new SMVMB is in view past the levee
Industry at the end of the road, no access to I-70 or the new bridge -- yet.
Industry at the end of the road, no access to I-70 or the new bridge — yet.
Looking back at St. Louis across the Mississippi River
Looking back at St. Louis across the Mississippi River

So access here kinda sucks too — but not for long. Since it opened in February 2014 I’ve driven across the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge (I-70) many times, but this weekend was my first seeing how it connected to IL Route 3. Later this year will mark 25 years I’ve lived in St. Louis, I know the region pretty well, including the Metro East — but the new I-70 approach to the new bridge is very different than it has been. Connectivity is greatly improved and will get better.

The new I-70/Route 3 interchange has the start of a road heading toward the East St. Louis riverfront
The new I-70/Route 3 interchange has the start of a road heading toward the East St. Louis riverfront
It's unfinished but will soon provide easy access to the Casino Queen, Malcolm Martin Memorial, and anything else built here.
It’s unfinished but will soon provide easy access to the Casino Queen, Malcolm Martin Memorial, and anything else built here.
The blue line marks where the road will continue. Image from the New Bridge gallery, click to view.
The blue line marks where the road will continue. Image from the New Bridge gallery, click to view.
Aerial shows how the new I-70/iL Route 3 interchange will connect to Riverpark Dr  leading Front St.
Aerial shows how the new I-70/iL Route 3 interchange will connect to Riverpark Dr leading Front St. Three potential sites here, the bottom left has good visibility from downtown St. Louis and the other two from the new I-70.

This is within St. Clair County, an analysis of future MetroLink light rail expansion into neighboring Madison County four of seven possible alignments would pass by to the East along the Route 3 corridor.  Additionally transportation officials are working to improve Amtrak speeds between Alton & St. Louis while also considering a new stop in St. Clair County. No historic buildings/districts razed, fewer/no businesses/residents displaced.

A new NFL/MLS stadium, light rail expansion into Madison County, and an Amtrak stop could transform this area and further connect the St. Louis region. Sorry Gov Nixon, Illinois make much more sense!

— Steve Patterson

 

Some Thoughts On The November 4th Midterm General Election

October 14, 2014 Featured, Metro East, Politics/Policy, St. Louis County Comments Off on Some Thoughts On The November 4th Midterm General Election
Get your sticker on November 4th
Get your sticker on November 4th

The television commercials before the August primaries were constant; especially Steve Stenger vs Charlie Dooley and Bruce Rauner attacking Pat Quinn, rather than his primary opponents. I’d hoped for a little relief between the primary and the general election, three weeks from today. It seems like right after the primary ended the election commercials continued, except for St. Louis County Executive, those only picked up again recently.

Illinois

Both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on behalf of Enyart and Bost. And one of the worst-kept secrets in national politics is that when those committees get involved in a contest, the messaging becomes largely indistinguishable from other hotly contested races throughout the country. (St. Louis Public Radio)

It’s clear from both sides that Bost is a Tea Party conservative, the type that shut down the federal government a year ago:

In a truly misguided display of chutzpah, some members of the Tea Party are congratulating themselves over a supposed “historic victory” in the government shutdown debacle. Yet the shutdown gang led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas extracted no concessions and instead hurt the GOP’s nationwide reputation and shaved GDP growth. (Forbes)

Bost wouldn’t change Congress at all, he’d have no impact on spending other than adding to it by refusing to extend the debt limit. Vote Enyart!

Republican Bruce Rauner falsely claims in a TV ad that Illinois leads the Midwest in “job losses” under Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. In fact, Illinois has experienced job growth — albeit small — since Quinn took office. (FactCheck.org)

Rauner’s big push is taxes — cuts for billionaires like himself. You think Illinois has fiscal problems now, it’d be far worse if Rauner got his way:

Once again we are testing the question: Can tax cuts pay for themselves? The answer– yet again– is a resounding no.

We’ve tried this experiment time and again. And tax cut proponents such as economist Art Laffer continue to insist they can turn fiscal dross to gold: Cut taxes deeply enough and the resultant boom in economic activity will boost revenues. Magic. Painless. Everything a politician would ever want.

Except this is fiscal snake oil. Over the past few years, Brownback and the Kansas legislature have gone all-in on this theory. The good news: They have left little room for ambiguity (though Brownback and his defenders are scrambling to find some, given the dismal results of their ambitious experiment). (Forbes)

Bruce Rauner reminds me of embattled Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.

Kansas suffered by far the largest decline in overall year-over-year receipts — a fall of 21.9 percent. The U.S. average drop was only 1.7 percent.

The institute said Kansas’ decline was “mostly attributable to legislated tax changes.” The state had a stunning 42.9 percent reduction in individual income tax revenue in the April-June period compared with a year earlier. The national decline was just 7.1 percent. (Kansas City Star)

Please don’t vote for Rauner!

St. Louis County

The August 9th shooting of Michael Brown, just four days after the primary, is affecting the general election for St. Louis County Executive:

The schism among St. Louis County Democrats split wide open Wednesday with the endorsement of the Republican nominee for county executive — Rick Stream — by a coalition of black officials angered over what they characterized as “years and years of disrespect” by party leaders. (Post-Dispatch)

For those unfamiliar, Democratic nominee Steve Stenger is close with Prosecutor Robert McCullough, whom many think should’ve recused himself in the Michael Brown/Darren Wilson case.

I personally don’t care for Stenger or Stream. The race includes Libertarian Theo (Ted) Brown, Sr and Constitution party candidate Joe Passanise.

Missouri voters also have to decide on some constitutional amendments, I’ll post on those before the election.

— Steve Patterson

 

Melvin Price Locks & Dam Dedicated Twenty Years Ago Today

June 18, 2014 Featured, History/Preservation, Metro East, Missouri Comments Off on Melvin Price Locks & Dam Dedicated Twenty Years Ago Today

Two decades ago, on Saturday June 18, 1994, the Melvin Price Locks & Dam was officially dedicated, replacing Lock & Dam 26.

The structure is very large
The structure is very large, free tours daily at 10am, 1pm & 3pm.
Looking down river from up top as a barge leaves the auxiliary lock. The main lock has been out of service since November.
Looking down river from up top as a barge leaves the smaller auxiliary lock. The main lock has been out of service since November.
The gate closing behind downstream barge as it entered the lock
The gate closing behind downstream barge as it entered the lock
Looking upstream toward Alton and the Clark Bridge
Looking upstream toward Alton and the Clark Bridge
The flood of 1993 flooded the open, but incomplete, facility before the dedication. .
The flood of 1993 flooded the open, but incomplete, facility before the dedication. the high water mark is on the left was recorded on August 1st.

Some facts about the Melvin Price Locks & Dam:

  • Also known as #26, the number of the old lock & dam it replaced
  • Named for the Illinois congressman that championed the project, Charles Melvin Price (January 1905 – April 1988)
  • Construction began in 1979, the main lock opened in 1990, and the full structure was completed in 1994.

And here’s an image of the old lock & dam 26:

AERIAL VIEW OF LOCK AND DAM, LOOKING SOUTHEAST Photocopy of photograph, ca. 1980. Original print is on file at St. Louis District Office, U.S. Engineer Office, St. Louis, Missouri. - Upper Mississippi River 9-Foot Channel Project, Lock & Dam 26, Alton, Madison County, IL
AERIAL VIEW OF LOCK AND DAM, LOOKING SOUTHEAST Photocopy of photograph, ca. 1980. Original print is on file at St. Louis District Office, U.S. Engineer Office, St. Louis, Missouri. – Upper Mississippi River 9-Foot Channel Project, Lock & Dam 26, Alton, Madison County, IL Click image to view more images at the Library of Congress

And finally, another metro east facility was dedicated on June 18th. Nine years ago (2005) the Malcolm Martin Memorial Park, where I got married recently, was dedicated.

— Steve Patterson

 

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