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Readers Want MetroLink in St. Louis County, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Presentations This Week

In the poll last week readers made it clear they want to see St. Louis County use Prop A funds to expand MetroLink. I’ll show the results later in this post but I want to share information on BRT informational meetings this week, starting today:

The Shrewsbury MetroLink station opened with the blue line extension on August 26, 2006.
The Shrewsbury MetroLink station opened with the blue line extension on August 26, 2006.

Public meetings will be held in September 2013 to gather public input on two final, recommended projects to be advanced into competition for Federal funding. The same meeting will be repeated at three locations along the proposed routes.

September 10, 2013
11a-1pm, open house with presentation at noon
City of St. Louis City Hall, 2nd floor
1200 Market Street, St. Louis, MO 63103

September 11, 2013
5:30-7:30 p.m., open house with presentation at 6:30 p.m.
The Heights (City of Richmond Heights Community Center)
8001 Dale Avenue, Richmond Heights, MO 63117

September 12, 2013
5:30-7:30 p.m., open house with presentation at 6:30 p.m.
St. Louis Community College – Florissant Valley Campus, Student Services Center, Multipurpose Room
3400 Pershall Road, Ferguson, MO 63135

Here’s a summary:

The study is now in the alternatives analysis phase. Four alternatives have been identified:

  • Halls-Ferry Riverview BRT
  • West Florissant-Natural Bridge BRT
  • Page Avenue BRT
  • I-64 Highway BRT

These four potential BRT routes are options for improving transit connections between St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis. One of the study’s main goals is to address the need for quick, direct travel from neighborhoods north and south of Downtown St. Louis to employers located in north and west St. Louis County. The “Central Corridor” stretching from Downtown St. Louis to the Central West End and Clayton still holds the region’s largest concentration of jobs, but the largest job growth is occurring in places like Chesterfield, Earth City, and St. Charles – areas easily accessible by highway, but currently not by public transit. The type of BRT service currently being studied is intended to expand access and improve travel time to those job opportunities – of particular importance to reverse commuters traveling to major job centers in suburban areas – while also providing a premium transit alternative for car commuters. The Rapid Transit Connector Study will identify candidates for Metro’s first two BRT routes; Metro will continue to work with the region to identify future BRT routes. Other transit options identified in Moving Transit Forward, such as expansions of the MetroLink System, are intended to meet other long-term goals such as strengthening neighborhoods and encouraging transit-oriented development.

More information on the four routes at MovingTransitForward.org.

Four alternative BRT routes, click image to view larger version
Four alternative BRT routes, click image to view larger version

The top three answers in the poll were for more light rail (MetroLink), not Bus Rapid Transit:

Q: How should St. Louis County invest Prop A funds to expand public transit? (Pick 3)

  1. MetroLink (light rail) extension into South County from Shrewsbury station 41 [21.93%]
  2. MetroLink (light rail) extension from Clayton to Westport Plaza 37 [19.79%]
  3. MetroLink (light rail) extension into North County from North Hanley or airport 33 [17.65%]
  4. Apply to operations to increase frequency of current routes 24 [12.83%]
  5. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to West County 13 [6.95%]
  6. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to South County 11 [5.88%]
  7. Other: 11 [5.88%]
  8. Add new regular bus routes 10 [5.35%]
  9. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to North County 6 [3.21%]
  10. Unsure/No Answer 1 [0.53%]

I was delighted to see more funding to operations place 4th, rather than lower. Here are the 11 other answers:

  1. Better accomodation for cyclists
  2. MetroLink South City
  3. Expand metrolink into South city. Add double-buses on busiest lines.
  4. BRT to North and South City
  5. focus on service, not equpt – demand-responsive service & grid route structure
  6. North South Metrolink Roue
  7. Metrolink expansion to Chesterfield
  8. metrolink from shrews to webster and kirkwood
  9. Both North and South County Extensions
  10. How is north/south Mettolink not an option. This poll is meaningless.
  11. LRt to N County and S County through downtown.

For some reason 7 of these think County voters will let their tax money be spent within the city limits of St. Louis. The north & south light rail planning that took place a number of years ago had the extensions ending in park & ride lots on Goodfellow & Broadway, respectively. They’d never cross out of the city limits. Like Shrewsbury, they’d be built to expand further in the future.

Shrewsbury has been open for 7 years and it doesn’t look like we’ll be expanding south from there anytime soon. Just as well, where would it go?

— Steve Patterson


Poll: Should St. Louis City & St. Louis County Reconcile? If So, How?

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

For decades now there have been efforts to nullify the “Great Divorce of 1876“, when the City of St. Louis removed itself from St. Louis County, becoming an independent city with municipal & county offices. All have failed.

Past failure, however, doesn’t deter some from pushing the idea again. An editorial from last month: Time to go public on mediation talks for the Great Reconciliation. A perfect subject for a poll.

Here are the  options, in order from no change to big change:

  1. St. Louis City & St. Louis County should remain completely separate (no change)
  2. St. Louis City & St. Louis County should remain separate, but partner more
  3. St. Louis City should rejoin St. Louis County as the 91st municipally
  4. St. Louis City & St. Louis County (and all its municipalities) should become one government body
  5. St. Louis City & St. Louis County (and all its municipalities, schools districts, fire districts, etc) should become one government body

The answers will be presented in random order in the poll, located in the right sidebar. Interestingly, any change would require a statewide vote since the state constitution would need to be amended.

— Steve Patterson


Poll: What Three (3) St. Louis Area Restaurants Have Closed That You Wish Were Still Open?

Many restaurants I remember from my childhood in Oklahoma City have since closed: Split-T, Al’s Hideaway BBQ, Nicolosi’s, etc. In my 23 years in St. Louis I’ve seen many restaurants come and go too. All I have left are fond memories.

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

The poll this week asks: What three (3) St. Louis area restaurants have closed that you wish were still open? So put on your nostalgia hat and review the list of 30 I’ve included as options in the poll:

  1. 94th Aerosquadron
  2. Bleeding Deacon
  3. Brandt’s
  4. Busch’s Grove
  5. Chez Leon
  6. Chuy Arzola’s (Dogtown)
  7. Del Taco
  8. Delmar Lounge
  9. Duff’s
  10. El Burrito Loco
  11. Empire Sandwich Shop
  12. Flaco’s Tacos
  13. King Louie’s
  14. Marty’s Baking
  15. Minions Cafe
  16. Miss Hullings
  17. Monarch
  18. O’Malley’s
  19. Papa Fabare’s
  20. Parkmoor
  21. Pestalozzi Place
  22. Red Moon
  23. Rossino’s
  24. Sunshine Inn
  25. The Salad Bowl
  26. Shangri La Diner
  27. The Stable
  28. Tangerine
  29. Tin Can
  30. Zoe’s Panasian

They’re alphabetical here but will be presented in random order in the poll (right sidebar). Here are more closed restaurants you might want to include in the other field:

  1. Colorado
  2. Gulf Coast Cafe
  3. Kitchen K
  4. Kopperman’s
  5. La Fourchette
  6. Mattingly’s
  7. Mojo Tapas
  8. Moxy
  9. Pelican
  10. Sage
  11. Simply Fondue
  12. Shuggas
  13. Southern Belle Supper Club
  14. Tanner B’s
  15. Terrene

You can also review a list of closed restaurants on UrbanSpoon.com.

Thanks to my Facebook friends with help generating all these names, I’d forgotten about many. Please share your memories in the comments below.

— Steve Patterson


Reflections on the Great Flood of 1993

Twenty years ago today we saw record flooding in the St. Louis region:

The Mississippi River at St. Louis crested at 49.6 feet on August 1, nearly 20 feet above flood stage and had a peak flow rate of 1.08 Million cubic feet per second. At this rate, a bowl the size of Busch Stadium would be filled to the brim in 69 seconds. (source

Flooding like this in May 2010 is typical for St. Louis, the 1993 flood was substantially worse, over this track.
Flooding like this in May 2010 is typical for St. Louis, the 1993 flood was substantially worse, over this track.

Here’s a more detailed look at flooding that year leading up to August 1st:

At St. Louis, the first spring flooding on the Mississippi River was recorded April 8, cresting at .2 feet above flood stage and lasting only that day. The Mississippi rose above flood stage again on April 11 and stayed above flood stage until May 24. The city got a respite as the Mississippi stayed below flood stage May 24 to June 26. On June 27, the Mississippi again went above flood stage and didn’t drop below flood stage for the year until October 7—a total of 146 days above flood stage. The Mississippi River was above the old record flood stage for more than three weeks at St. Louis from mid July to mid August. Prior to 1993, the historic flood of record on the Mississippi River at St. Louis had been 43.2 feet, recorded April 28, 1973. That record was broken July 21, 1993, with a level of 46.9 feet and broken again 11 days later with a record stage of 49.58 feet on Aug. 1. St. Louis is located near the confluence of the Missouri, Illinois and Mississippi rivers, all of which were in flood at the same time. (source

In the  two decades since, Chesterfield’s Monarch Levee was rebuilt and substantial commercial development has happened within the Chesterfield  valley. For example. THF’s Chesterfield Commons:

THF's Chesterfield Commons has over 2 million square feet, this site was flooded 20 years ago.
THF’s Chesterfield Commons has over 2 million square feet, this site was flooded 20 years ago.

And now we have two competing outlet malls opening very close to each other on land flooded 20 years ago. In the market for a new Bentley, Maserati, or Aston Martin? Head to STL Motorcars showroom in the floodplain, at 1 Arnage Blvd.  Not even close to St. Louis, but it sounds better than Gumbo Flats Motors on Floodplain Ave.

— Steve Patterson 


Lack of Land-Use Controls Among Reasons Why So Little Transit-Oriented Development At MetroLink Stations After Two Decades

Today is the 20th anniversary of the opening of our original MetroLink light rail line. Since then we’ve added a line in Illinois and one in St. Louis County.

MetroLink train leaving the North Hanley station
MetroLink train leaving the North Hanley station

One thing we haven’t really seen much of is transit-oriernted development (TOD). We’ve had a few projects that are, at best, transit-adjacent development (TAD).

TAD is TOD gone bad, development that is adjacent to transit but breaks all the rules that make TOD work, like making public spaces the focus of building orientation and neighborhood activity; creating pedestrian-friendly street networks that directly connect local destinations; and providing a mix of housing types, densities and costs. (TOD’s Evil Twin: Transit-Adjacent Development)

In the poll last week I asked about the lack of TOD in the last two decades:

Q: Why do you think our MetroLink light rail stations haven’t seen much transit-oriented development in the last 20 years? (Pick up to 3)

  1. Lack of proper land-use controls, like form-based zoning 42 [13.21%]
  2. Nobody pushed for TOD 37 [11.64%]
  3. Regional fragmentation of leadership 37 [11.64%]
  4. Regional job & population growth have been stagnant 37 [11.64%]
  5. The station designs aren’t conducive for infill development 31 [9.75%]
  6. Located in bad locations. 29 [9.12%]
  7. The alignment isn’t convenient to many 27 [8.49%]
  8. No demand for transit-oriented development 23 [7.23%]
  9. We naively thought if we built it they’d come 17 [5.35%]
  10. Used mainly for games, events, to reach Lambert airport 15 [4.72%]
  11. Another reason not listed 10 [3.14%]
  12. Our laissez-faire love of the free market 8 [2.52%]
  13. Naysayers muted initial enthusiasm, halting TOD potential 4 [1.26%]
  14. Park & ride lots are the best use of the land at the stations 1 [0.31%]
  15. Unsure/no answer 0 [0%]

All of the above (except #14) are valid reasons, I think they ended up in about the right order too. A form-based code at the Wellston station would’ve required St. Louis County Economic Council building to acknowledge the presence of light rail.

The St. Louis County Economic Council building abuts the station but doesn’t even have a sidewalk to the front door, located as far away from transit riders as physically possible.

When the county government doesn’t do set a good example, how can we expect others to do better on their own?

In the last couple of years there has been a TOD push. Better late than never or too little, too late?

— Steve Patterson




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