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A Park With A View

One of the best views of St. Louis fireworks isn’t in St. Louis at all, but in East St. Louis across the Mississippi River.

ABOVE: Hundreds watched gathered on the 4th in the Malcolm Martin Memorial Park in East St. Louis IL to watch the St. Louis fireworks.
ABOVE: Fireworks on the 4th with the Arch and St. Louis skyline in the background. Taken with an iPhone 4S.

For more information on Malcolm Martin Memorial Park click here.

— Steve Patterson


Readers Support Removal Of I-70 To PSB Ramp

In the poll last week most readers favor MoDOT’s plan to eliminate the ramp from southbound I-70 onto the Poplar Street Bridge (PSB) toward Illinois.

Q: Should the ramp from SB I-70 onto the Poplar Street Bridge be retained after the new bridge opens?

  1. Yes 24 27.59% 27.59%
  2. No 56 64.37% 64.37%
  3. Unsure/no opinion 6 6.9% 6.9%
  4. Other: 1 [1.15%] – “map with ramp identified would help”
The original post is here.
ABOVE: The red arrow shows the ramp onto the PSB from SB I-70 before it merges with the ramp from NB I-55

MoDOT wants to build a double lane ramp from northbound I-55 to the PSB but it says it can’t without the room gained by eliminating the other ramp. MoDOT wants eastbound I-70 traffic to use the new river bridge opening in 2014.

– Steve Patterson


Eads Bridge Rehabilitation To Begin

Last week local and federal officials gathered on the Arch grounds with the historic Eads Bridge in the background:

Deputy Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan today joined Missouri and Illinois officials to kick off the Eads Bridge Rehabilitation Project, which will repair and restore the historic, 138-year old bridge and ensure safe and efficient light rail service for thousands of people who use the bridge to cross the Mississippi River every day.


The $36 million project is funded in part by more than $34 million in federal dollars, including $25 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and $9 million in additional federal transit funds directed to the Bi-State Development Agency of the Missouri-Illinois Metropolitan District. Local funds will cover the remaining cost to modernize and repair the bridge, which was built in 1874. (Source)

MetroLink light rail trains began using the lower level to cross the Mississippi River in 1993. The upper level was closed to vehicles and pedestrians for many years but was reopened within the last 10-12 years.

ABOVE: Metro Board Chair speaking at the Eads Bridge Rehabilitation Kick Off on May 22nd, 2012

This work won’t be visible but is necessary for continued use to the bridge. One speaker noted that before the Arch, the Eads Bridge was St. Louis’ most recognized structure.

ABOVE: Looking south towards the Eads Bridge & Arch, MLK Bridge in the foreground (top)

It’s nice to see investment in infrastructure but we have so much the needs so much work, how will we ever pay for it all?

“When you look into the future and you begin to look at what our investments will mean when we’re competing with China, India, emerging economic powers like Brazil, we better have our infrastructure ready to go, to be able to compete on a global basis,” said Victor Mendez, who runs the Federal Highway Administration. (CBS News)

Funding is largely based on state & federal fuel taxes but the income hasn’t kept pace  with costs.

– Steve Patterson


Poll: Should The Existing Ramp From I-70 Onto The Poplar Street Bridge Be Retained After The New Bridge Opens? (Updated)

MoDOT wants to remove the ramp from SB I-70 to the Poplar Street Bridge after the new Mississippi River Bridge opens in 2014, but not everyone likes the idea:

Plans to re-route Interstate 70 over the new Mississippi River Bridge are facing a roadblock from stakeholders in the Metro East. The $55 million project includes eliminating the east-bound ramp that connects Interstates 70 and 44 to the Poplar Street Bridge.

 St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern told the East-West Gateway Council of Governments Wednesday that cutting access to the bridge would strangle an already struggling economy. (St. Louis Public Radi0)

Many use this ramp daily.  .

ABOVE: Existing ramp onto the Poplar Street Bridge (PSB) heading eastbound to Illinois

Some say any change at all could jeopardize funding. The poll this week asks your thoughts on these ramp, vote in the right sidebar.

UPDATE  5/27/2012 11am

Post & oll was rephrased, the prior poll answers were reset to zero.


– Steve Patterson


Emerson Park MetroLink Station East St. Louis, Illinois

Yesterday I posted about the challenge of bringing back the area around the 5th & Missouri Station in downtown East St. Louis.Today I’m focusing on the next station to the east on the light rail line: Emerson Park.

Construction on the St. Clair County MetroLink extension from the 5th & Missouri station to the College station in Belleville began in 1998 and opened in May 2001. The extension added eight new stations and seven park-ride lots. The total project cost was $339.2 million, with the FTA and St. Clair County Transit District sharing the burden at 72% ($243.9 million) and 28% ($95.2 million), respectively. Local funding was provided by the St. Clair County Transit District as a result of a 1/2 cent sales tax passed in November 1993.

May 5th marks the 11th anniversary of the Emerson Park station and the area has seen considerable positive change, but planning mistakes were made.

The Good:

New housing, lots of it, has been built and more is under construction now. From last year:

Today marked the groundbreaking of a $17 million development in East St. Louis adjacent to the Emerson Park MetroLink Station, Jazz @ Walter Circle. The $17 million development is a public-private partnership between the East St. Louis Housing Authority (ESLHA), Hampton Roads Ventures and Dudley Ventures, and is the first in the nation to combine public housing development funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development with New Market Tax Credits. (NextStopSTL)

This station has seen a steady flow of new construction over the last 11 years.

ABOVE: NW corner of Bowman Ave & N 15th St on April 27, 2007, click image for aerial in Google Maps
ABOVE: The same corner 5 years later on April 19, 2012 with Jazz @ Walter Circle under construction. Click image for more information on this project
ABOVE: Central City Apartments across Bowman Ave from the Emerson Park Station in April 2007
ABOVE': A typical street in the Parsons Place development just notheast of the Emerson Park Station, April 2007
ABOVE: Park in the center of the Parsons Place development

I’m thrilled with how much has been built in the last decade around the Emerson Park Station. The new senior housing over storefronts will be outstanding for this neighborhood.

The Bad:

As you might expect, mistakes have been made in the past and that continues. Where to begin? Parking is a good place, this station has three parking lots with a total of 816 parking spaces! This is the 2nd highest number of spaces at Illinois MetroLink stations, Fairview Heights has the highest with 853 spaces. The parking is divided among three lots — the main lot and two overflow lots.

ABOVE: 816 parking spaces divided among three parking lots, click image to view aerial in Google Maps

The lot to the far right should go away immediately or at least be significantly reduced in size, it serves as a barrier between the new housing to the east of the station. I first noticed the disconnect when I drove there and walked around in April 2007 before I was disabled.

ABOVE: At the end of Parsons Ave looking across the parking lot at the Emerson Park station. Why doesn't the sidewalk continue? April 2007
ABOVE: Same location as viewed from the opposite side, not friendly to pedestrians, difficult pushing a stroller and impossible in a wheelchair. April 2007
ABOVE: Looking toward Parsons Place after leaving the Emerson Park Station. Not exactly inviting. April 2007
ABOVE: The walkway leaving the station is nice and wide but a newly built crosswalk across N 15th is off to the left rather than a direct line. April 2012
ABOVE: In April 2007 the connection was more direct, but the crosswalk and curb ramp was still indirect
ABOVE: Now the amount of concrete is greater and a new pedestrian bridge takes pedestrians over the interstate. Bleak! Shade trees and seating would have been nice here.

In 2007 this east overflow parking lot had a few cars but on my recent visit it had none. Even if it’s 100% full on days the Cardinals play at home it shouldn’t be allowed to separate the nice newer housing from transit. Huge fail. Who’s fault? No clue, but nobody figured out that a continuous sidewalk would figuratively and literally connect housing to the station.

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