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Contractor Thought The Public Sidewalk Was A Good Location For Construction Signs

Recently, while taking 14th Street, I noticed construction signs limiting the width of the too-narrow public sidewalk — the East side between Olive & Locust — adjacent to the main library.

Looking North
Looking North from Olive you see the first sign on the sidewalk. Behind it is another on the sidewalk and a third in the grass to the right of the sidewalk.
This is the 2nd sign on the sidewalk, a bus stop is just beyond
This is the 2nd sign on the sidewalk, a bus stop served by five MetroBus routes is just beyond

I posted one image to Facebook & Twitter with the caption: “14th street sidewalk almost completely blocked by temp road sign #ADA” A response on Twitter suggested I tweet this to the CSB (aka Citizens Service Bureau). Instead I emailed two people at the Streets Dept, copying two from the Office on the Disabled.  Streets quickly identified the culprit — hired contractor Intren — working for Ameren.

The two signs on the sidewalk were reduced to one on the grass.
The two signs on the sidewalk were reduced to one on the grass.
The 3rd sign that was always on the grass --likely because they didn't want to cover/block the fire hydrant.
The 3rd sign that was always on the grass –likely because they didn’t want to cover/block the fire hydrant.

Temporary signs are a necessity, but so is the sidewalk next to the main library used by 5 MetroBus routes. The sidewalk is too narrow for the pedestrian volume but the historic library landscaping and the street width prevents it from being widened.  Once again, people unaware/unconcerned about pedestrians.

— Steve Patterson

 

Will the Urban League’s New Ferguson Center Be Urban or Suburban?

This afternoon the Urban League is going to give more details about something they released on Friday, a new center at the site of the burn-out QuikTrip on West Florissant in Ferguson:

On Friday, the Urban League said the center would be “an important extension of its services in North County to further the League’s mission of empowering communities and changing lives.”

The center will “expand the Urban League’s work to broaden access to education/job training, employment and economic self-reliance for residents of the St. Louis metro area,” the League said in a news release.

A news conference is set for Monday afternoon to announce details, which the Urban League would not provide Friday. (Post-Dispatch)

Job training is needed in Ferguson, a better-trained workforce will benefit the entire region.

nnn
The former QuikTrip at 9420 W. Florissant on  August 16, 2014, click image for map
St  Louis County records list the irregularly-shaped property as being 1.14 acres.
St Louis County records list the irregularly-shaped property as being 1.14 acres.

St  Louis County records list the property as being 1.14 acres with irregular borders. This afternoon we might see preliminary ideas for the planned building. Hopefully the Urban League is planning to build the structure out at the street corner, close to the public sidewalk. My fear is they’ll set a building at the back, behind parking. The latter would send the wrong message to a community with many who use sidewalks and public transit. Since they’ll be starting with a cleared site I’m hopeful, I applaud the effort but remain cautious until I see specifics.

The press conference will be held 3pm at the Urban League’s non-walkable St. Louis County Operations Center at 8960 Jennings Station Road. To be fair, it’s located in a rented former grocery store built in 1967.

— Steve Patterson.

 

St. Louis’ Low Standards Turns A Once-Proud City Into A Suburban Office Park

We can all agree St. Louis must retain existing employers and attract new ones. Unfortunately, St. Louis has a habit of forgetting about urban design along the way.   Let’s take a look two examples; one within the proposed 100 acres site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and one to the immediate West.

First is a warehouse currently occupied by Faultless Healthcare Linen.

This warehouse, built in 1991, will be razed if the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency picks the city site over three others in the region.
This warehouse, built in 1991, will be razed if the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency picks the city site over three others in the region.
This small building from 1899 helps hide the awful warehouse behind it.
This small building from 1899 helps hide the awful warehouse behind it.

I remember when this was built in 1991 — I’d just moved to Old North St. Louis and passed it daily on Jefferson.  One street was closed, the rest are faced with blank concrete block walls.

The next example is Pharmaceutical company Sensient Colors Inc., their 30-acre campus at 2515 N. Jefferson is to the West of the potential National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency site.

The Sensient building was built in 2004.
The newest Sensient building was built in 2004 faces Jefferson but no entrance here, no public sidewalks even.
Looking NE from Elliot Ave between N. Market & Benton. The company has removed public sidewalks from the public-right-of-way adjacent to their facility.
Looking NE from Elliot Ave between N. Market & Benton. The company has removed many public sidewalks from the public-right-of-way adjacent to their facility.

Never heard of Sensient? I hadn’t either, but you’ve likely seen their products — on your plate.

Most of the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers use Sensient colors and flavors to make their household brand-name food and beverage products. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Now, the demand for natural colors is suddenly outpacing demand for synthetics, and Sensient, which makes both, is responding. It has sophisticated technology it won’t explain (it does mention doing “supercritical CO2 extraction”) to pull the coloring agents from botanicals. It has a Fusion Precise Natural Color system that lets customers specify not just a particular color, but also a subtle shade of that color. And it has a head start: 60 years’ experience with natural colors. (St. Louis Magazine)

I get it, they have trade secrets. Still, in a city people do walk to work — especially from public transit. I believe we can retain/attract employers without turning our city into a suburban office park.

— Steve Patterson

 

Good News Friday (#GNF): Improved Pedestrian Crossing On Olive

It’s Friday so that means a post with good news. Today’s good news is that the area of Midtown known as Grand Center is beginning to implement some of the improvements from their master plan. The blocks between Grand & Spring are very long — too long. They’d painted crosswalks at midpoints years ago, but these crossing points didn’t work for those of us in wheelchairs. Even the able-bodied could face difficulties with parked cars, motorists not stopping, etc.

So last month I was happy to see a new crossing on Olive between the Nine Network (KETC) and St. Louis Public Radio (KWMU)

Looking North
The curb gently bows out to narrow the crossing with of Olive. Looking North, the Nine Network on the left, St. Louis Public Radio on the right, the new Media Commons plaza center.
Looking South
Looking the other direction you can see both new ramps built within the parking lane.

In April 2010, while visiting the Pulitzer, I photographed the problem in Grand Center: paint but no ADA ramps, cars able to block the crosswalk. The following was very common in Grand Center so I’m very glad to see it getting addressed!

April 2010
The Subaru wagon is parked in line with other cars. but blocking the crosswalk. No ramp on either end of the crosswalk. April 2010

Pushing the ramps out into the parking lane puts pedestrians where they can look both directions and where motorists can see pedestrians entering the crosswalk so they can stop to let them cross. Tomorrow will be a nice day so get out and take a walk. See you Sunday with a new poll.

— Steve Patterson

 

Board Bill 198 Would Improve ‘Complete Streets’ Law

An incomplete street: The ramp is on the other side of the traffic signal base, opposite of the button. No crosswalk.
An incomplete street, Gravois @ McNair: The ramp is on the other side of the traffic signal base, opposite of the button. No crosswalk.

This morning I will testify before the Board of Aldermen’s Streets, Traffic and Refuse committee in favor of Board Bill 198:

BOARD BILL NO. 198 INTRODUCED BY ALDERMAN SCOTT OGILVIE, ALDERWOMAN LYDA KEWSON, ALDERWOMAN MEGAN GREEN, ALDERMAN SHANE COHN, ALDERWOMAN CHRISTINE INGRASSIA, ALDERWOMAN CAROL HOWARD An ordinance repealing Ordinance 68663, codified as Chapter 3.110.120 of the Revised Code of the City of St. Louis and in lieu thereof enacting a new ordinance relating to a “complete streets” policy for the City of St. Louis, stating guiding principles and practices so that transportation improvements are planned, designed and constructed to encourage walking, bicycling and transit use while promoting safe operations for all users.

The first reading of the bill was in November, this will be the first hearing on it. The full Bill, as introduced, can be viewed here (5 page PDF).  As noted in the summary above, it repeals & replaces Ordinance 68663 — a “Complete Streets” law adopted a few years ago.  This new bill is more — complete.

The best part is the creation of a Complete Streets Steering Committee, comprised of:

Directors or their designees from the Departments of Streets, Planning and Urban Design, Board of Public Service, Health Department, Department of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry, and the Office of the Disabled.

This committee would meet quarterly and:

  • Develop short-term and long-term steps and planning necessary to create a comprehensive and integrated transportation network serving the needs of all users;
  • Assess potential obstacles to implementing Complete Streets practices;
  • Develop an action plan to more fully integrate complete streets principles into appropriate policy documents, plans, project selection processes, design manuals and  maintenance procedures;
  • Provide an annual written report and presentation to the Board of Aldermen showing progress made in implementing this policy.

We can do better, I’m glad some aldermen are trying. For more information see the National Complete Streets Coalition.

— Steve Patterson

 

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