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Town & Country Crossing: Getting To/From On Public Transit; The Shopping Center Itself

My last visit to Town & Country Crossing shopping center was in July 2008, the Whole Foods* had just opened, the Target wasn’t quite open yet (current aerial via Google Maps). This was just over a month after coming home from my stroke, I drove there because I wasn’t familiar with our transit system. see: Town & Country Crossing A Marked Improvement Over The Typical Strip Center in Our Region. * Full disclosure: we currently have Whole Foods shares in our portfolio.

Now I’m very familiar with our public transit system and my husband uses our shared car to get to work. So I took public transit from downtown way out to Town & Country to see the shopping center 6+ years later.

Public Transit:

From our loft Google Maps says the drive  to Town & Country Crossing, located at Clayton Rd & Woods Mill Rd., is just over 19 miles, taking 23 minutes via I-64 or 56 minutes if you avoid highways. The 57x is the MetroBus route that runs along Clayton Rd in far west county. How long does it take? From my loft it takes 68- 87 minutes, depending upon departure time and route. The 57x usually heads west from the Brentwood MetroLink station, but a few trips per day leave from the Central West End MetroBus center adjacent to the CWE MetroLink. Interestingly, catching the #10 MetroBus a block from our loft can get me to Town & Country Crossing in 77 minutes, less than some combinations involving MetroLink light rail!

The latest morning arrival weekdays is 7:34am. The next arrival? Not until 2:32pm. Clearly Metro wisely caters to worker’s schedules rather than run buses throughout the day. The 57x also serves Chesterfield.

I went out three weeks ago, Monday October 6th. I took MetroLink to the Brentwood station to catch the first afternoon trip 57x westbound.

"Connecting Missouri MetroBus routes at Brentwood-I 64 Station include: #02 Red Line, #59 Dogtown, #158 Ballas-West County, and #57X Clayton Rd Express." Click image to view station page
“Connecting Missouri MetroBus routes at Brentwood-I 64 Station include: #02 Red Line, #59 Dogtown, #158 Ballas-West County, and #57X Clayton Rd Express.” Click image to view station page
The 57x I took to Town & Country stopping on Clayton Rd. between Woods Mill & Hwy 141
The 57x I took to Town & Country stopping on Clayton Rd. between Woods Mill & Hwy 141. The concrete pad is fairly new, Metro has been working to improve accessibility of bus stops throughout the region
The next WB MetroBus stop isn't good for many people
However, the next WB MetroBus stop isn’t good for many people. Town & Country Crossing is visible in the background

For the return trip I had three choices; one across Clayton Rd from where I got off the 57x, and two along the north edge of Town & Country Crossing. Here are the two next to my destination.

For the eastbound 57x the eastern most stop is at a point where the sidewalk is far away from the curb
For the eastbound 57x the eastern most stop is at a point where the sidewalk is far away from the curb, the sign can be seen next to the red & white taxi
The stop I used was tossed the west end of the shopping center, no psd to reach the bus but closer than the other option.
The stop I used was toward the west end of the shopping center, no pad to reach the bus but considerably closer than the other stop.

The 57x I took back to the east stopped at Brentwood MetroLink then continued east to the Central West End MetroBus Center, where I caught the #10 that dropped me off at 16th & Olive, a block from my loft. Because the #57 uses I-64 from Brentwood to Mason Rd the trip is relatively quick.

Woods Mill Plaza:

I’d never been to Woods Mill Plaza, located just east of Town & Country Crossing, so I thought I’d take a look while I was in the area. The main anchor is a Schnucks.

Approaching from the traffic island after crossing Clayton Rd
Approaching from the traffic island after crossing Clayton Rd
A decent sidewalk runs along Clayton Rd and includes one bus stop I previously mentioned, but no accessible route into the site
A decent sidewalk runs along Clayton Rd and includes one bus stop I previously mentioned, but no accessible route into the site
View of the various buildings from the public sidewalk. Maybe access is off of Woods Miill?
View of the various buildings from the public sidewalk. Maybe access is off of Woods Miill?
The first auto in/out on Woods Mill not only lacks a pedestrian entry but blocks a straight path. I got the contract info for a Town & Country employee who said Woods Mill Plaza is responsible, he'd contact them about this.
The first auto in/out on Woods Mill not only lacks a pedestrian entry but blocks a straight path. I got the contract info for a Town & Country employee who said Woods Mill Plaza is responsible, he’d contact them about this.
The next entry also lacked a pedestrian route. No other pedestrian route into Woods Mill Plaza was found despite the presence of sidewalks & bus stops.
The next entry also lacked a pedestrian route. No other pedestrian route into Woods Mill Plaza was found despite the presence of sidewalks & bus stops.

From property records I learned Woods Mill Plaza was built in 1986, the 2-story office building on the site was built in 1991.  If you think this site is somehow “grandfathered” you’d be very wrong:

Because barrier removal under the ADA is a continuing obligation, an accessible route may need to be provided at a later date, if a route for the general public develops or is created, and the provision of an accessible route is readily achievable. For instance, if a new bus stop is established near a site, an accessible route may have to be provided if pedestrians commonly walk between the new bus stop and the entrance to the facility. Similarly, if a sidewalk or walkway is provided between the facility and the new bus stop, an accessible route may be required. (Dept of Justice)

Moving on…

 Town & Country Crossing:

As I said at the opening, my only other visit was in July 2008. I’d been impressed with what I saw then but I wanted to return in my wheelchair to see the completed shopping center. I remain impressed but did note some problems in maintenance and design.

Immediately upon crossing Woods Mill I encountered a situation with a vertical height higher than allowed. This was the only problem like this I encountered in the site.
Immediately upon crossing Woods Mill I encountered a situation with a vertical height higher than allowed. This was the only problem like this I encountered in the site.
View toward Woods Mill
Moving into the site this was the view toward Woods Mill
And the view toward Clayton Rd.I decided to follow this cute to enter the site.
And the view toward Clayton Rd.I decided to follow this cute to enter the site.
To the immediate west of the Clayton Rd entrance is a new home development.
To the immediate west of the Clayton Rd entrance is a new home development. This land was part of the previous AT&T center where Town & Country Crossing is located now. These homes are marketed as being adjacent to the shopping center, especially the Whole Foods.
However, the intended connection between the two isn't accessible.
However, the intended connection between the two isn’t accessible.
The Clayton Rd entrance
The Clayton Rd entrance, Town & Country apparently doesn’t allow tall backlit retail signs or the developer realized a more tasteful approach is more visually appealing.
The architects/engineers that originally laid our=t Town & Country Crossing gave a lot of thought to pedestrian accessibility, this is to a small out building on the west edge
The architects/engineers that originally laid our=t Town & Country Crossing gave a lot of thought to pedestrian accessibility, this is to a small out building on the west edge
View looking east along the main east-west pedestrian route, which is parallel to the main east-west auto route, the building on the left contains several storefronts and a bank is just beyond that.
View looking east along the main east-west pedestrian route, which is parallel to the main east-west auto route, the building on the left contains several storefronts and a bank is just beyond that.
Unfortunately something went wrong here, despite the efforts to make this shopping center fully accessible.
Unfortunately something went wrong here, despite the efforts to make this shopping center fully accessible. This is easily corrected, not sure about to the bank beyond.
Looking back west you can see someone forgot to consider making sure wheelchairs/strollers could cross the driveway leading to dumpsters. Easy mistake  , easy fix.
Looking back west you can see someone forgot to consider making sure wheelchairs/strollers could cross the driveway leading to dumpsters. Easy mistake , easy fix.
Some buildings facing north toward Clayton Rd look out onto this pond.
Some buildings facing north toward Clayton Rd look out onto this pond.
South of the Whole Foods the internal sidewalk network heads east toward Woods Mill Rd.
South of the Whole Foods the internal sidewalk network heads east toward Woods Mill Rd. (left) or Target (right)
Looking east toward Woods Mill, the Whole Foods ids to the left, Target is behind.
Looking east toward Woods Mill, the Whole Foods ids to the left, Target is behind.
Ahead is Woods Mill Rd
Ahead is Woods Mill Rd. But let’s go back west to the Target
In front of the Target looking north, we can see a path leading out into the parking lot.
In front of the Target looking north, we can see a path leading out into the parking lot with disabled spots on each side, a common Target feature. .
When we get further out we see it has changed to a sidewalk with regular parking spots on each side
When we get further out we see it has changed to a sidewalk with regular parking spots on each side
Turning around we see the Target. So how far does this go? It connects with the original east-west sidewalk we used.
Turning around we see the Target. So how far does this go? It connects with the original east-west sidewalk we used.
The white car id headed west on the main east-west drive, the east-west sidewalk is on the other side of it.
The white car id headed west on the main east-west drive, the east-west sidewalk is on the other side of it.

Closing Thoughts:

Town & Country Crossing isn’t perfect, someone dropped the ball when the storefront building & bank was built in the northwest corner. Still, this remains the best example in the St. Louis region of a well connected shopping center. It still largely caters to motorists while being mostly ADA-compliant. They’re not mutually exclusive.

— Steve Patterson

 

Central West End (CWE) MetroLink Station Poorly Connected To Taylor Ave

Our busiest MetroLink light rail station is the Central West End (CWE) station, but it’s also one of the worst when it comes to connecting to a public street. If you head up the stairs/elevator at the west end of the platform you’ll get to a plaza where Euclid Ave used to be, now part of the Washington University Medical School/BJC campus that’s decimated the street grid. Head east and the grid remains mostly intact, but getting to it isn’t easy.

Looking east toward Taylor from the CWE MetroLink platform
Looking east toward Taylor from the CWE MetroLink platform
Looking east down the service driveway toward Taylor
Looking east down the service driveway toward Taylor

The connection is narrow & winding, designed to get MetroBus rides to/from light rail. It isn’t designed for pedestrians to reach Taylor Ave. Why might someone want to go to Taylor Ave?  For one, various hospital related buildings are within a few blocks. The CWE is to the north, but one can use the former Euclid Ave to connect with Euclid Ave. To the south, however, is the Forest Park Southeast (FPSE neighborhood) and The Grove, accessed via Taylor Ave.

Expensive investments in mass transit infrastructure, such as light rail, needs to be designed to maximize use and thus, return on investment. If you didn’t see the train occasionally or the crossing gates, you’d never know a station as been just off Taylor Ave for more than two decades.

— Steve Patterson

 

Writing About Improved Pedestrian Access For A Decade, Before Becoming Disabled

In the nearly ten years I’ve written this blog I’ve consistently argued for improved pedestrian access, even before I became disabled in February 2008. Newer readers may have forgotten my early advocacy for walkability, here are some reminders:

The above posts were all before my stroke! I’m particularly proud of pushing for pedestrian access at Loughborough Commons, it’s a better than planned project because of my pushiness.

When the new Schnucks opened in August 2006 there was no pedestrian access at all.
When the new Schnucks opened in August 2006 there was no pedestrian access at all.
By the next month the developer was adding a sidewalk to the east side of the entrance drive.  Eventually the other side also received an access route.
By the next month the developer was adding a sidewalk to the east side of the entrance drive. Eventually the other side also received an access route.

Loughborough Commons would’ve been better had the city, developer, and engineers planned for pedestrian access & internal circulation from the start. They didn’t, but by pushing throughout construction I helped the project be just a little accommodating to pedestrians.  In one post I even said something like “I hope I don’t become disabled” when arguing why it was important for new development to welcome pedestrians in edition to motorists.

Yes, I’ve posted about crosswalks & pedestrian access since becoming disabled — but they’ve been a regular topic since that first day I started writing: October 31, 2004.

— Steve Patterson

 

ADA Violation: Mini of St. Louis Doesn’t Have Required Pedestrian Access They Said They Would

Back in 2011 Mini of St. Louis announced they would relocate from Clayton to a large site adjacent to the Sunnen MetroLink light rail station (blue line).  I took the opportunity to remind them they needed to provide an accessible pedestrian route.

Twitter conversation in June 2011
Part of Twitter conversation in June 2011, read from the bottom to the top. My reply they responded too last (top) was “@miniofstl you still must provide pedestrian access to the public sidewalk.”

They said ” Oh, of course!!! That’s a non-issue. We have all that in place already…” but I knew the dismal record of their architects on pedestrian accessibility.  In October 2012 I blogged about what I was seeing happening at this station, see Transit-Ignored Development (TID) At Sunnen MetroLink Station

Earlier this month I visited again to see if it turned out as I’d predicted. Unfortunately, it did.

Upon arrival on a WB train you can easily see the way out to the extended Sunnen Dr
Upon arrival on a WB train you can easily see the way out to the extended Sunnen Dr
The civil engineer responsible for Sunnen Dr didn't plan a way for pedestrians to cross it, the only option is to squeeze between the crossing gate and track.
The civil engineer responsible for Sunnen Dr didn’t plan a way for pedestrians to cross it, the only option is to squeeze between the crossing gate and track. This might explain why Mini thought pedestrians wouldn’t cross the street.
Once across the street and on the new public sidewalk you can easily see the destination, but no accessible route.
Once across the street and on the new public sidewalk you can easily see the destination, but no accessible route.
I west up Sunnen Dr  looking for an accessible  pedestrian route into the dealership.
I west up Sunnen Dr looking for an accessible pedestrian route into the dealership.
This entry could've easily included at short accessible route, but it doesn't
This entry could’ve easily included at short accessible route, but it doesn’t
Out along Hanley Rd they've got hundreds of feet of new sidewalk but no accessible way for pedestrians to enter.
Out along Hanley Rd they’ve got hundreds of feet of new sidewalk but no accessible way for pedestrians to enter.

It’s very simple folks, if you’re building on a site that has public sidewalks, transit stops (bus or rail), or another way for a pedestrian to reach the building you need to provide an accessible route. The Dept of Justice, in a 1993 letter, gave an example of when an accessible route isn’t required:

For example, the Standards would not require that a developer provide an accessible route between an accessible entrance to a retail store and a major highway bordering the site, if customers only have access to the store by driving to the parking lot. (US DOJ — recommended reading)

In urbanized areas (non-rural) even sites next to highways can be accessed by pedestrians because of other streets & sidewalks. This type of anti-pedestrian development isn’t tolerable anywhere in the region, especially next to a light rail station that had such potential. Crossing the street at the station can be retrofitted as can an accessible route to Mini of St. Louis.

For once I’d like it if our new construction included planning for pedestrians.

— Steve Patterson

 

Olive Sidewalk East Of 13th Street Improved

September 26, 2014 Accessibility, Downtown, Featured, Walkability Comments Off on Olive Sidewalk East Of 13th Street Improved

Back on May 6th I got fed up with the sidewalk condition along Olive at 13th, so I emailed Bill Burkhardt, the city employee in charge of asphalt, and copied his boss, Director of Streets Todd Waelterman.

One of the photos I sent showed bucked sidewalk sections, the raised edges were hard to pass over in my wheelchair and a trip hazard for others.
One of the photos I sent showed bucked sidewalk sections, the raised edges were hard to pass over in my wheelchair and a trip hazard for others.
In the same block, to the east, two concrete utility covers were very rough
Another, in the same block, to the east, two concrete utility covers were very rough
Less than a week later a little asphalt was now placed at various points to make the sidewalk less hazardous, but the rough utility covers remained for months.
Less than a week later a little asphalt was now placed at various points to make the sidewalk less hazardous, but the rough utility covers remained for months.
But on August 27th I noticed one had been removed, the spot prepped for new concrete
But on August 27th I noticed one had been removed, now facing west
The following day it was prepped for new concrete
The following day it was prepped for new concrete
On September 6th the other was removed
On September 6th the other was removed
On September 15th the 2nd had been poured but workers remained.
On September 15th the 2nd had been poured but workers remained.
September 17th all workers are gone, both rough utility lids replaced,
September 17th all workers are gone, both rough utility lids replaced,

Turns out the underground utility vaults belong to Ameren, the worker I spoke to said the lids shouldn’t have been allowed to get that bad. Eventually the sidewalk needs to be replaced, but the asphalt makes it tolerable in the meantime. Very glad the city contacted Ameren about their lids.

— Steve Patterson

 

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