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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

 

Lack of Curb Ramps in Just Two Spots Ruins Otherwise Accessible Tower Grove Ave

One of the most frustrating things about using a wheelchair in the public right-of-way (ROW) is how many routes are 99% accessible — the 1% inaccessible part can be a bigger obstacle than you might think. Today’s example shows the lack of thought put into making an entire corridor accessible — it’s done piecemeal.

Saturday morning my husband and I took the bus to the Missouri Botanical Gardens, we spent a few hours there. Afterwards we decided to have lunch at OLIO  — just a short walk (map). Turning North on the East side of Tower Grove Ave I encountered a problem after crossing De Tonty St.

Tower Grove & De Tonty St
Tower Grove @ De Tonty St

The curb was lower to the right, but not enough that I could get up onto the sidewalk. Thankfully the bike lane exists, I used that on high speed to reach the next street as quickly as possible. At Lafayette Ave I looked back South and the same problem exists on this end!

Tower Grove Ave @ Lafayette Ave., that's my husband in the background catching up
Tower Grove Ave @ Lafayette Ave., that’s my husband in the background catching up

Good thing I couldn’t get onto the sidewalk at the other end — I couldn’t have gotten off on this end!

I crossed Lafayette Ave and got back on the sidewalk without any issues. I had no other problems after lunch, catching our bus a couple of blocks further North. So why hasn’t this small section been updated in the 25 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law? Fragmentation is my best guess. This sidewalk runs under I-44, so MoDOT is likely responsible instead of the city.

Another possibility is gerrymandering, both ends of this sidewalk are in the 19th ward. Yes…seriously!

This area is in the very bottom left area pf the 2011 ward boundaries.
This area is in the very bottom left area pf the 2011 ward boundaries. Click image to see a larger ward map.

To be fair, most likely this was in a different ward(s) before 2011. Still, the 19th Ward is probably the worst in the city for curb ramps.

My experiences have shown over and over again that nobody is concerned about making corridors accessible from end to end. A person examining Tower Grove Ave would’ve caught this issue. Maybe someone has but they can’t get funding from the 19th ward budget to correct it? Maybe MoDOT is aware but it too busy avoiding tolling I-70 to worry about two ramps.

The West side of Tower Grove is better — only one end is missing a ramp, at Lafayette.

— Steve Patterson

 

Potholes at Curb Ramps

April 21, 2015 Accessibility, Featured 1 Comment

Potholes are annoying, but if you’re watching the road you can often miss them. When I drive our car I do my best to avoid potholes, but in my power wheelchair I often can’t miss them — they’re at the bottom of the curb ramps.

ggg
Tucker & Locust

When the city builds ramps they cut out enough asphalt to build the forms — then patch in the hole later. But patches, as you might expect, don’t stay put. The 17″ wheels on our Honda don’t like hole this size, the 5″ front wheels on my chair get lost in these. I have the email address of the city’s guy in charge of asphalt so this is likely fixed already, but I encounter more problems than I have time to report.

— Steve Patterson

 

Cutting Corners Costs Time & Money: 1424 Washington Ave

Four months ago today I noticed work going on at 1424 Washington Ave., so I began documenting exterior changes, mistakes, fixes, etc. as I’d pass by. Check it out…

December 9th I posted this to Twitter & Facebook with the caption: "Work going on inside 1424 Washington Ave this afternoon"
December 9th: I posted this to Twitter & Facebook with the caption: “Work going on inside 1424 Washington Ave this afternoon” An ADA-ramp with handrails is visible. Click image to view on Facebook
January 2nd: Again posted to Twitter & Facebook with the caption: "Curious how those renovating 1424 Washington will handle ADA access" Note the door threshold is flush with the top of the ramp.
January 2nd: Again posted to Twitter & Facebook with the caption: “Curious how those renovating 1424 Washington will handle ADA access” Most handrails now gone, concrete busted, the door threshold is flush with the top of the ramp. Click image to view on Facebook
January 15th: Sidewalk being busted out in front of new doorway
January 15th: Sidewalk being busted out in front of new doorway
January 20th: Door on left now a few inches above the old ramp so they raised the interior floor level
January 20th: Door on left now a few inches above the old ramp so they raised the interior floor level
January 21st: sidewalk removed in front of new door is bigger than yesterday, old ramp being busted out
January 21st: sidewalk removed in front of new door is bigger than yesterday, old ramp being busted out
January 22nd; Old ramp and sidewalk between doors now removed
January 22nd; Old ramp and sidewalk between doors now removed
January 23rd: Posted to Twitter & Facebook with the caption: "Fresh concrete at 1424 Washington Ave doesn't appear ADA-compliant, too steep." I mentioned to the contractor it wasn't ADA-compoliant, he said the owner knew that but didn't care. Click image to view on Facebook.
January 23rd: Posted to Twitter & Facebook with the caption: “Fresh concrete at 1424 Washington Ave doesn’t appear ADA-compliant, too steep.” I mentioned to the contractor it wasn’t ADA-compoliant, he said the owner knew that but didn’t care. I sent an email to a few city officials with this photo! Click image to view on Facebook.
January 28th: Posted to Twitter & Facebook with the caption: "Another attempt at ADA compliance at 1424 Washington Ave, what's left doesn't look kosher" Click image to view on Facebook
January 28th: Posted to Twitter & Facebook with the caption: “Another attempt at ADA compliance at 1424 Washington Ave, what’s left doesn’t look kosher” Click image to view on Facebook
30
January 30th: I suspected this end will get redone
mar 16th
March 16th: and it did but so did the rest as a step now appears as the sidewalk falls
mar 16th
March 16th: the view from the other end showing a step that wasn’t there on January 30th. Will this get an end railing to prevent someone from stepping off the high end?
April 4th: still no railing on the end, the smaller step should've returned around the end.
April 4th: still no railing on the end, the smaller step should’ve returned around the end.

A lot of concrete & money was wasted, if only they’d done it right the very first time!  A quality development by the Three Stooges McGowan Brothers.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

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