Home » North City » Recent Articles:

Readers Want Walkability and Long-Term Jobs at NorthSide Regeneration

northside regeneration map
Map of project area

Last week readers at least 135 readers took the poll, indicating what they’d like to see as priorities at Paul McKee’s NorthSide Regeneration project. Here are the results in the order the software listed, two answers tied for the the top spot.

Q: Paul McKee’s “Northside Regeneration” project is slowly moving foreword, pick your top 5 priorities from the following:

  1. Good walkability 76 [11.33% – TIE]
  2. Jobs for locals: long-term work at various pay levels 76 [11.33% – TIE]
  3. Rail transit connected to downtown 64 [9.54%]
  4. Urban form with adequate parking behind buildings 60 [8.94%]
  5. Safety 59 [8.79%]
  6. Mixed uses, incomes 52 [7.75%]
  7. Good street grid with short blocks 48 [7.15%]
  8. Architecture that IS historic looking 43 [6.41%]
  9. Hoodlum-free zone 39 [5.81%]
  10. Renovation of the Clemens Mansion 35 [5.22%]
  11. Many builders/developers, not just a few 33 [4.92%]
  12. Good bikeability 24 [3.58%]
  13. Something…anything ASAP 21 [3.13%]
  14. Jobs for locals: short-term construction work 17 [2.53%]
  15. Architecture that is NOT historic looking 11 [1.64%]
  16. Easy access to highways 8 [1.19%]
  17. Plenty of free parking 3 [0.45%]
  18. Suburban planning, big blocks and cul-de-sacs 2 [0.3%]

I agree with most of the items in the top 10, very glad to see “Good Walkability” tie with “Jobs for locals: long-term work at various pay levels” at the top, followed closely by rail transit to downtown and urban form. I do take exception with one item: architecture.

I was disappointed “Architecture that IS historic looking” got 43 votes, but “Architecture that is NOT historic looking” only got 11 votes. Buildings in 2014 trying to look like they’re from 1914 end up looking cheesy.  Other cities do a great job building new urban buildings that relate to the sidewalk and neighboring buildings without being faux historic. We need to drop the expectation that every new building be given a bit of red brick on the front and a fake mansard roof on top.

— Steve Patterson

 

9th & 10th One-Way Couplet Should Be Returned To Two-Way Traffic

Decades ago traffic engineers converted many downtown St. Louis streets from two-way traffic to one-way traffic, 9th & 10th going north & south, respectively. The 9th/10th couplet extended north to I-70, basically serving as very long on/off ramps, cutting through the Columbus Square neighborhood. Today the former Cochran Gardens high-rise public housing project is gone, replaced with mixed income apartments. The 1980s Columbus Square condos and townhouses are still nice, the neighborhood is generally pleasant and safe. Despite the fact that 9th & 10th are no longer connected to I-70, they remain very wide one-way streets, undermining the positive investment in the area.

Looking south at 9th from Cass
Looking south at 9th from Cass
The St. Louis Housing Authority owns this retail building on 9th at Cass, one-way streets as a freeway on ramp aren't good for neighborhood retail businesses.
The St. Louis Housing Authority owns this retail building on 9th at Cass, one-way streets as a freeway on ramp aren’t good for neighborhood retail businesses.
Most streets perpendicular to 9th/10th have a nice neighborhood scale. This is  New Haven Ct.
Most streets perpendicular to 9th/10th have a nice neighborhood scale. This is New Haven Ct.
Looking north on 9th from O'Fallon St, lanes aren't marked but wide enough for at least 3
Looking north on 9th from O’Fallon St, lanes aren’t marked but wide enough for at least 3
Looking north on 10th St from O'Fallon St, just as wide and useless as 9th
Looking north on 10th St from O’Fallon St, just as wide and useless as 9th
Looking north on 9th from Cole
Looking north on 9th from Cole

 

Looking south at 9th from Cole St.
Looking south at 9th from Cole St., the dividing line between downtown and the Columbus Square neighborhood
Looking north at Cole St & 10th St
Looking north at Cole St & 10th St

I’d like to see 9th & 10th be two-way all the way through downtown, but that’s more complicated with garage entrances/exits. signals, etc. But from Cole St. to Cass Ave it would be very simple, just some changes to the signals at Cole & Cass, the rest is signs and paint.

We ran these long on/off ramps through this neighborhood for decades, now we need to do the right thing and make 9th & 10th neighborhood streets again!

— Steve Patterson

 

Poll: Paul McKee’s “Northside Regeneration” Project is Slowly Moving Foreword, Pick Your Top 5 Priorities

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

Paul McKee’s “Northside Regeneration”  has been controversial since before it became public, it has faced court challenges and has experienced delays. Now, however, it seems to be ready to move forward.

The question for the poll this week is what qualities should be priorities of the project?  Please select your top from from the list provided in the poll in the right sidebar.

— Steve Patterson

 

Two Locally Preferred Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Routes Selected

In September readers picked the I-64 BRT route between downtown and Chesterfield as their favorite of four bus rapid transit (BRT) routes being studied by the Transportation Corridor Improvement Group (TCIG), which “consists of staff from Metro, EWGCOG, the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and MoDOT”.

“None” was 2nd in the poll, but the next actual route favored was the West Florissant – Natural Bridge BRT option. On Tuesday the TCIG recommended two locally preferred alternative routes to Metro’s Operations Committee

After careful consideration and analysis of the transportation corridors, the TCIG recommended as the locally-preferred alternative two BRT projects: I-64 between Chesterfield and Downtown St. Louis, and a north-south route connecting North St. Louis County to Downtown St. Louis primarily via West Florissant Avenue and Natural Bridge Avenue.

See their report/presentation here.

The four alternative BRT routes that were being studied.
The four alternative BRT routes that were being studied, click image to view larger version.

Let’s take a closer look at the two selected routes, from Tuesday’s report:

I-64 BRT (route)

The 1-64 BRT corridor spans 23 miles between the City of Chesterfield and Downtown St. Louis. It would serve a limited number of park-and-ride stations along I-64 between Chesterfield Mall and the Central West End. From the Central West End it would travel along Forest Park Avenue into Downtown St. Louis, making a loop through Downtown before ending at the Civic Center Station. As currently proposed, its service frequencies would match MetroLink, and transit prioritization strategies would be implemented along the corridor to speed transit travel.

The I-64 BRT would serve a Central Corridor that hosts 55,000 people and 115,500 jobs within one half-mile, outside of Downtown St. Louis. The addition of this high-performance service to the Metro System would provide the region’s first rail-like transit option in West St. Louis County, offering the first opportunity for all-day, single-seat service between Chesterfield and Downtown St. Louis, and reducing transfers from other areas by half. Along with reducing transfers, it would improve transit travel time within the corridor by 30%, making it a much more attractive alternative to the personal automobile. Ridership projections from EWGCOG’s regional travel demand model show a potential ridership market of 5,100 weekday riders, 2,100 (41%) of whom would be new “choice” riders. That market is projected to grow to 6,800 weekday riders by 2040.

I-64 BRT CONSUMER BENEFIT

  • End-to-end transit travel time reduced from 76 minutes to 53 minutes
  • – Compared to auto travel time of 25 minutes
  • – Offers motorists option of comfortable, affordable, productive commute
  • Corridor ridership projected to increase 357% from 1,115 to 5,100 weekday riders opening year; 6,800 in 2040
  • – 2,100 (41%) new “choice” riders opening year
  • Enhanced service
  • – BRT option provides single-seat service not currently available
  • – Reduce transfers by 50%
  • – End-to-end service available all day, rather than only peak
  • – Create additional hubs to make local bus service more efficient

This route makes a lot of sense to me. It gets a higher level of transit service on this corridor without the enormous infrastructure expense that would be required for light rail. It would run down Forest Park Ave & Boyle, running right past the proposed IKEA and connecting with the proposed new CORTEX MetroLink station. Transit time would be reduced from three times driving to twice driving. For some that’s still a non-starter, but for others it would allow them to avoid  driving/parking headaches while being able to be productive. It doesn’t need to get every driver out of their cars to be a success.

West Florissant – Natural Bridge BRT (route)

The other transit project included in the LPA is an arterial-based BRT route connecting North St. Louis County to Downtown St. Louis. This service would operate out of the new North County Transit Center, running 16 miles to Downtown via West Florissant Avenue, Lucas and Hunt Road, and Natural Bridge Avenue. As currently proposed, its service frequencies would match MetroLink; stations with a high level of customer amenities would be spaced a minimum of one mile apart; and transit prioritization strategies would be implemented to speed travel.

The combined West Florissant-Natural Bridge corridor hosts 70,000 people and 18,000 jobs within a half-mile, not counting Downtown St. Louis. Supplementing the local bus network in this strong and proven transit market will give residents of North St. Louis City and near-North County their first high-performance, rail-like transit option. It will reduce transit travel time and any required transfers by half. It would also greatly improve access and travel time between some of the region’s most disadvantaged areas and major jobs centers in Downtown and the Central Corridor, particularly if paired with the I-64 BRT option. Ridership projections from EWGCOG’s travel demand model show a potential ridership market of 3,200 weekday riders, 600 (19%) of whom would be new “choice” riders.

W. FLORISSANT–NATURAL BRIDGE BRT CONSUMER BENEFIT

  • End-to-end transit travel time reduced from 85 minutes to 42 minutes
  • – Compared to auto travel time of 25 minutes
  • – Attractive amenity package offers affordable, comfortable commute
  • Corridor ridership projected to increase 23% from 2,610 to 3,200 opening year and 2040 (Natural Bridge)
  • 600 (19%) new “choice” riders
  • Enhanced service
  • BRT option supports fast single-seat ride to Downtown St. Louis
  • If paired with I-64 BRT, travel from North County to CWE and West County would require only 1 transfer between 2 high-speed routes; currently requires multiple transfers and 2-3 local routes

Unlike going to Chesterfield, reaching downtown from North St. Louis County isn’t very direct via car or transit. This will help reduce travel time for existing transit users and is expected to attract new riders. The streetscape improvements along the route will benefit everyone in the area.

Additional information

Travel speeds competitive with MetroLink

  • Avg MO MetroBus speed = 16.02 mph
  • Avg MO MetroLink speed = 25.63 mph
  • I-64 BRT speed = 26.04 mph
  • WFNB BRT speed = 25.71 mph

The report has very detailed cost projections, here’s the summary:

  • I-64 BRT: $37.9M capital; $4M net operating
  • West Florissant – Natural Bridge BRT: $39.1M capital; $2.6M net operating

Additional operational revenue would be necessary for this additional service.

Next Steps

Metro’s board is expected to vote to approve these two locally preferred routes at their March 28th meeting.  If approved it goes to East-West Gateway Council of Governments, the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the St. Louis region. Once part of our 2040 transportation plan we can seek capital funding through the Federal Transit Administration’s Small Starts program.

Again, much more detail is with the report/presentation from Tuesday.

— Steve Patterson

 

Tenth Year Looking at St. Louis’ Doctor Martin Luther King Drive

This is my 10th year blogging on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on each of the previous nine years I’ve taken a look at Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in the City of St. Louis. Let’s start at the Mississippi River withn the King Bridge, originally known as the Veterans Memorial Bridge.

The MLK Bridge viewed from an Amtrak train in 2012
The MLK Bridge viewed from an Amtrak train in 2012

The Veterans Memorial Bridge was built by the City of East Saint Louis as a toll bridge, opening in 1951. At the time, it was the 6th longest cantilevered truss bridge in the US, and the largest cantilevered truss bridge over the Mississippi River. It carried US-40 and US-66 from 1955 until 1967. When the Poplar Street interstate highway bridge opened as a free bridge in 1967, the toll revenue from the Veterans Memorial Bridge dropped off dramatically. Eventually, both the bridge and the City of East Saint Louis would end up going bankrupt. The bridge was renamed in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. The structure continued to go downhill until it had to be taken over by the Saint Louis Port Authority and rebuilt in the late 1980’s, opening again in early 1989. (Source)

At that time drivers coming into St. Louis on the newly renamed bridge crossed under the elevated highway but the road split — Delmar Ave. to the left (south) or Franklin Ave. to the right (north). This 1958 aerial is clearer than the 1971 aerial.  My guess is there was debate in St. Louis about which street to rename for Dr. King.  This is just a hunch given the fact it wasn’t until 1972 that part of Franklin Avenue and Easton Avenue were renamed to honor Dr. King.  I hope to do some research on the naming process before MLK Day 2015.

 MARTIN LUTHER KING DRIVE (E-W). (Official designation is DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING DRIVE.) Following the route of the early trail from St. Louis to St. Charles, this street was officially named St. Charles Rock Road in 1865 and renamed Easton Avenue in 1881 to honor Rufus Easton, an early St. Louis postmaster. It received its present name following the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968. King won a Nobel Prize in 1964 for his work to gain full civil rights for black Americans.  

EASTON AVENUE (E-W). Honored Rufus Easton, who was named St. Louis’ first postmaster in 1805. He also served as Missouri’s first attorney general and gained recognition as one of the leading lawyers of his day. The name Easton still occasionally appears on city street maps although Easton Avenue is now known as Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. (St. Louis Library Street Index):

Just a few years later we began removing blocks of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, first the two blocks were between 7th-9th for the Cervantes Convention Center, which opened in 1977. This cut off the ability to drive directly from the King Bridge onto MLK Drive.

Cervantes Convention Center. 801 Convention Center Plaza. St. Louis Mo. August, 1977. Photograph (35mm Kodachrome) by Ralph D'Oench, 1977. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. NS 30747. Scan © 2006, Missouri Historical Society.
Cervantes Convention Center. 801 Convention Center Plaza. St. Louis Mo. August, 1977. Photograph (35mm Kodachrome) by Ralph D’Oench, 1977. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. NS 30747. Scan © 2006, Missouri Historical Society.
The block between 10th & 11th remains, the back of the Ramada on the south and surface parking on the north.
The block between 10th & 11th remains, the back of the Ramada on the south and surface parking on the north. The hotel was built in 1980
Looking east from 11th
Looking east from 11th, this block is now a private driveway. The building on the left is from 1984, the building on the right from 1987.
Looking west from the same spot this block was closed to vehicles
Looking west from the same spot this block of MLK was closed to vehicles in 1980 when the Board of Education building on the left was built.
The continuous MLK Dr begins at Hadley St, one block east of Tucker. Post-Dispatch on the north side, the rebuilt plaza formerly named Interco Plaza.
The continuous MLK Dr begins at Hadley St, one block east of Tucker. Post-Dispatch on the north side, the rebuilt plaza formerly named Interco Plaza.
The marker is about the rebuild of Tucker, not about this lifeless "park."
The marker is about the rebuild of Tucker, not about this lifeless “park.”
Between 19th-20th property owner Ameren/UE is doing some grading work, not sure why though.
Between 19th-20th property owner Ameren/UE is doing some grading work, not sure why though.
Another Crown Food Mart has opened on MLK, this one is at Vandeventer
Another Crown Food Mart has opened on MLK, this one is at Vandeventer
At Taylor I noticed this new storefront because it stood out from how it looked for years
At Taylor I noticed this new storefront because it stood out from how it looked for years
I couldn't find my photos so I grabbed this from Google Streetview.
I couldn’t find my photos so I grabbed this from Google Streetview. The building was originally built in 1885.
The Family Dollar store #1562 at 4949 Dr. Martin Luther King closed
The Family Dollar store #1562 at 4949 Dr. Martin Luther King closed
At the city limits we have the old Wellston Loop streetcar building
At the city limits we have the old Wellston Loop streetcar building
The other side of Hodiamont there's a new fence, but it's not clear what this area is for.
The other side of Hodiamont there’s a new fence, but it’s not clear what this area is for.
A year ago
A year ago renovations were underway
ggg
The Premier Lounge at 5969 Martin Luther King
The Wellston Loop shopping area has been described as the "black downtown"
The Wellston Loop shopping area has been described as the “black downtown”, click image to see YouTube video. This is likely a reason why Easton Ave was selected to honor Dr. King.
Image: Page 59 of the district nomination to the National Register, click to view
Looking east from Hamilton Ave in July 1963. Image: Page 59 of the district’s nomination to the National Register, click to view
One organization thinks a plaza on vacant land will revitalize the area
One organization thinks building a “Legacy Park” on vacant land will revitalize the area. Click the image for more information.
I'm not convinced a park/plaza is the answer when nearby buildings are boarded up -- one has a giant hole in the side.
I’m not convinced a park/plaza is the answer when nearby buildings are boarded up — one has a giant hole in the side.

There are now several groups working in the Wellston Loop area, each with the stated goal to revitalize the area. Their strategies are diverse and not entirely compatible with each other. Over the next year I plan to talk with the various players, asking each why they think their strategy will be successful.

— Steve Patterson

 

Advertisement



[custom-facebook-feed]

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe