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Sunday Poll: What Should Be The Long-Term Outcome of the Condemned Parking Garage at Tucker & Locust?

On Tuesday I wrote about the condemned parking garage at Tucker & Locust, which led to discussion in the comments about what should/could happen. Perfect poll topic…

Please assume the list choices aren’t necessarily government imposed or funded, could be entirely private — you can wave a magic wand. You may pick two, one can be your own.

The answers above are presented in random order.

— Steve Patterson

 

Older Coin Parking Meters Now Accept Credit Cards, Smartphone Required

July 16, 2015 Featured, Parking Comments Off on Older Coin Parking Meters Now Accept Credit Cards, Smartphone Required

Eighty years ago today the very first parking meter was installed, in Oklahoma City of all places. For decades parking meters were entirely mechanical devoices, prone to mechanical failures.

From Popular Science, December 1959, via Google Books.
From Popular Science, December 1959, via Google Books.

But the meter has been changing as new technology allows. The City of St. Louis is in the process of replacing the digital coin-operated meters that were installed about 20 years ago.

New single-space meter coming
Some blocks will get multi-space pay stations, but most will get these single-space meters

In the meantime, the old meters have been updated to accept credit cards — sorta. Those of us with smartphones can set up an app to pay the parking fees with plastic. This convenience costs 35¢ 30 cents extra — the same convenience fee as the new meters & pay stations that are being installed.

Our old meters now accept credit card payments
Our old meters now accept credit card payments

Parking rates increased throughout the city at the start of the month, so those who like using coins will need more.

New electronic meters in the city will charge $1.50 an hour throughout most of the high-usage downtown and downtown west areas, up from the $1 an hour they were as of Tuesday. Lower-usage meters in the remainder of the city will rise to $1 from the previous 75 cents.

Penalties for failing to pay at meters also will go up. The previous $10 fee — which turned to $20 if it wasn’t paid within two weeks — now will start at $15 and rise to $30 if it’s paid late. However, fine recipients now will have three weeks to pay instead of two. (Post-Dispatch)

Old & new meters don’t accept bills — coins or plastic. For more information see the Treasurer’s new parking website: ParkLouie.com.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Car Hit Planters & Scaffolding Outside Condemned Parking Garage

Early Monday morning a car hit planters & scaffolding on the Tucker sidewalk, at Locust.

A car crashed into the side of a downtown building just before 1:00 Monday morning near Tucker Boulevard and Locust Street.  (KMOV)

KMOV’s report says after inspection the building was “deemed safe.” More accurately, the car didn’t damage the building, but it was condemned months ago.

Garage at Tucker & Locust, December 2014. The two planters hit Monday can be seen between the cars
Garage at Tucker & Locust, December 2014. The two planters hit Monday can be seen between the cars
Just before 7am, a worker looks at the damage to the scaffolding.The two planters now shoved back against the previously condemned building
Just before 7am, a worker looks at the damage to the scaffolding.The two planters now shoved back against the previously condemned building

This scaffolding has now been in place for more than a year. All the work had been inside, but that stopped months ago.

Prior posts:

On July 1, 2014 just before the scaffolding went up along the Locust side
On July 1, 2014 just before the scaffolding went up along the Locust side
December 2014
December 2014

The scaffolding was in place to prevent debris from falling to the public sidewalk below. With work stopped, I have to wonder how long it’ll remain in place? Is there a point where the city will force the owner &/or contractor to remove it from the pubic right-of-way?

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Arch Visitors Walk Where Sidewalk Used To Be, Should Be Again

Currently there’s only one way in/out of the Arch grounds — via Walnut Street over I-44 (formerly I-70).  While the new lid at the center is being completed, everyone is routed via the new bridge over the interstate, on the North side of Walnut Street. However, at some point, St. Louis removed the sidewalk on the North side of Walnut St, between Memorial (3rd St) and 4th.

Pedestrians crossing back downtown are directed to not walk straight ahead, to go to the South side of Walnut (left)  or go one block North to Market (right)
Pedestrians crossing back downtown are directed to not walk straight ahead, to go to the South side of Walnut (left) or go one block North to Market (right)
The South side of Gateway Tower, KMOV's truck parks where the public sidewalk should be
The South side of Gateway Tower, KMOV’s truck parks where the public sidewalk should be
Where the sidewalk used to be next to the former American Zinc building, is  angled parking
Where the sidewalk used to be next to the former American Zinc building, is angled parking. Click image to view the National Register nomination of this building
Looking East from 4th the same barricades indicate pedestrians shouldn't walk in a straight line
Looking East from 4th the same barricades indicate pedestrians shouldn’t walk in a straight line
Crowds of people walking West into downtown
Crowds of people walking West into downtown on a Thursday afternoon

Looking at the 1997 National Register nomination of the American Zinc building, the sidewalk was in place. Most likely the sidewalk was removed when Drury Inn combined it with two other buildings, see Drury steps up plans for hotel at Fur Exchange site.

Looking at GEO St. Louis it appears this remains part of the public right-of-way (PROW), not vacated to private interests. The PROW was reallocated to give pedestrian space to automobiles. At the time the Cardinals played in Busch Stadium II and Walnut Street was a major point of vehicular egress after games.

I think we need to examine the Walnut PROW to see if the amount for vehicle travel can be reduced by one lane so that a sidewalk can be replaced. Remember, hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to connect the Arch ground to downtown. The lack of a sidewalk connecting to the South highway crossing point is a huge disconnect.

People know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Yellow Curb Isn’t Visible Enough To Keep Motorists From Parking In Bus Stops

One of my pet peeves is blocked bus stops, people thinking they’re entitled to park in them. To be fair, many drivers who do so may just be oblivious to the fact that buses need to pull up next to the curb so some of us can board/deboard. The response of some is “call the police” or “tow them away.”  Yes, enforcement is part of the solution — but the St. Louis Police really have more important things to do. I don’t think Metro’s Police have jurisdiction on city streets.

Besides, the police can be just as guilty.

Last year A St. Louis traffic police officer parked in front of a fire hydrant and blocked the adjacent bus stop. Market at 16th.
Last year A St. Louis traffic police officer parked in front of a fire hydrant and blocked the adjacent bus stop. Market at 16th.

When you’re on the bus and need to get off at a blocked stop you can’t expect it to wait a couple of hours for a tow truck to remove the offending car, or when you need to get on the bus you don’t have time for enforcement to work. Ticketing the car still doesn’t get you on the bus.

What’s needed at some bus stops is highly visible markings so the oblivious drivers see they shouldn’t park there. Those who don’t care will potentially be more embarrassed parking in a visible bus stop than at a yellow curb. It doesn’t need to be complicated, just out of the ordinary.

Paint is cheap, by painting the pavement in addition to the curb they've made it clear this isn't for parking. Location: in front of St. Louis Police Headquarters on  Olive.
Paint is cheap, by painting the pavement in addition to the curb they’ve made it clear this isn’t for parking. Location: in front of St. Louis Police Headquarters on Olive.

I’ve said all this before, so why bring it up again? Last Tuesday morning my husband and I visited the St. Louis Zoo, we were there for four hours — great time.  I returned downtown the way I arrived, via public transit in my wheelchair. My husband drove our car, going directly to work. Leaving the Zoo’s North entrance I saw a problem as soon as I started across the street to the bus stop.

The last three vehicles are parked in the bus stop I need to get home
The last three vehicles are parked in the bus stop I need to get home
I'm now at the spot where the bus should extend the ramp to pick me up.
I’m now at the spot where the bus should extend the ramp to pick me up.

I went down to the corner to wave at the bus as it approached. It turned the corner and stopped in the street since it couldn’t get to the curb. All traffic was now stopped. I rolled in the street to reach the bus. After I paid the fare the ramp was folded back into the bus — the #3 Forest Park Trolley. I was inconvenienced, the other passengers were inconvenienced, other motorists were inconvenienced, the bus was delayed so more people were inconvenienced.

My goal is compliance, to ensure people don’t park in the bus stop. Sure, increased enforcement of tickets, booting, & towing might also keep it clear. But at what cost? First the person(s) that would be assigned to increased enforcement wouldn’t be able to serve the public elsewhere in the city or park.  Ticketing, booting,  & towing also isn’t free — and it just server to anger motorists. Yes, they parked at a yellow curb. I suspect many didn’t notice, or didn’t see any harm.

If there is paint on the pavement though, the oblivious excuse goes out the window. Adding the words “NO PARKING”, “BUS STOP, and/or “TOW AWAY ZONE” would convey the message to the driver that parking here isn’t a good idea.

The stop above is served by the #90 (Hampton) and #3 (Forest Park Trolley)

The Metro #3 Forest Park Trolley is a partnership between Forest Park Forever, Bi-State Development Agency/Metro, Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Science Center, Saint Louis Zoo, and the City of St. Louis. (Forest Park Forever)

This trolley bus operates May through September, largely to mitigate the summer problem of traffic congestion within the park.

2012: People board the Forest Park Trolley to visit the park
2012: People board the Forest Park Trolley to visit the park

I’d like to see these seven partners take action so the bus can reliably be used by everyone. On Twitter I offered to ride the trolley with them so they can see which stops are problematic. I suggested the stops be painted solid so they’re not only visible to motorists but to visitors. The stops could become part of the marketing effort.

I emailed Forest Park Forever President & Executive Director Lesley Hoffarth, who replied, and said they’re working on new striping for the park now, this issue will be taken into consideration. I’m not optimistic it’ll be solved. The new striping work should be done before Fall, I’ll keep trying to influence the work before it’s done.

— Steve Patterson

 

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