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Noxious Weeds Outside St. Louis’ Gateway Transportation Center

June 24, 2019 Featured, Transportation Comments Off on Noxious Weeds Outside St. Louis’ Gateway Transportation Center

The city-owned Gateway Transportation — home to Amtrak, Greyhound, and Megabus — has a landscaped area between it and the adjacent Civic Center MetroLink station. The landscaping has never been noteworthy.  I was at the ribbon cutting in November 2008, but my exterior landscaping pics aren’t that old.

October 2011: non-planted sections with planted in between
April 2015, largely unchanged

On the 7th of this month we were at the station early to catch our train to Chicago. I stopped to snap a pick of the…weeds.

Friday June 7th @ 6am, all the weeds were hard to miss.

Less than a week later I came down to the area the morning after the Blues won the Stanley Cup. I was quiet at Enterprise, but I really noticed the weeds from the MetroLink platform.

June 13, 2019 @ 7:30am
The material to keep the gravel in the non-planted section from moving is now clearly visible

I sent these images to a landscape architect friend, she said it might have been intended as a native garden — but she sees “some thistles (noxious weed).” All landscaping requires regular weeding, something this hasn’t had.

The city issues citations to homeowners for less than this. If a homeowner had this as their yard the city would come mow it and send them a bill. This looks completely unkept, neglected.

It would be nice to see more attention paid to this area since it’s in such a highly-visible location. I can only imagine what our guests from Boston must’ve thought.

I don’t know if this landscaping is the responsibility of the city’s comptroller, Metro, or some other entity. I’ll send this post around today and hopefully someone will step up and get the landscaping cleaned up. Or the city will ticket itself?

— Steve Patterson

 

City Residents Please Consider Using Public Transit (Bus &/or Rail) To Get Downtown For The Blues Parade Tomorrow

June 14, 2019 Environment, Events/Meetings, Featured, Public Transit, Transportation Comments Off on City Residents Please Consider Using Public Transit (Bus &/or Rail) To Get Downtown For The Blues Parade Tomorrow

Yesterday I shared a Metro post, criticizing their lack of mentioning MetroBus.

Of course, no mention of MetroBus.

Posted by UrbanReview ST LOUIS on Thursday, June 13, 2019

Fr0m their post:

MetroLink will have extra trains ready to go on Saturday as hundreds of thousands of Blues fans head downtown to celebrate with the Stanley Cup Champions, the St. Louis Blues.

With five downtown MetroLink stations a block or two away from the Stanley Cup Parade, MetroLink is the perfect option while avoiding road construction, traffic and parking issues.

What about residents of North & South city that don’t yet have light rail?

2012: The #11 MetroBus crosses Jefferson Ave. heading west on Chippewa Ave.

Yes, MetroBus is a good option. Since Metro’s marketing folks don’t seem to want to suggest their own service I decided to step up and show you some suggested routes.  Those of us who live in the city are well-served by transit, if we take it downtown that’ll ease congestion for everyone downtown.  We’re not all served by light rail.

My focus is on MetroBus routes that enter downtown, though other routes could connect you to say the Forest Park MetroLink station — the 90 Hampton MetroBus serves both North, West, & South city.  Of course the busiest MetroBus route, the 70 Grand, is an excellent option to reach MetroLink.

Because the Civic Center Transit Center is on the south edge of downtown (Downtown West technically) the south routes have less disruption from downtown events. However, most should be good, assuming you get downtown prior to street closures.

From South City:

  • 8 Bates-Morganford winds its way through the city on streets like: Loughborough, Holly Hills, Tower Grove, Shaw, Russell, 12th/Tucker, and — Bates & Morganford. On Saturday this bus runs every hour, the last bus before the parade arrives at Civic Center at 11:40am.
  • 10 Gravois-Lindell originates at Gravois & Hampton, cutting a diagonal path through south city along Gravois. Saturday morning this bus runs every 30 minutes.
  • 11 Chippewa runs every 40 minutes on Saturday morning, from the Shrewsbury MetroLink Station along Landsdowne, Chippewa, and Jefferson. Normally the EB bus heading into downtown goes up to Market but tomorrow it’ll use Chouteau to 14th to avoid the parade.
  • 20 South Broadway serves South County & South City including South County Mall, Jefferson Barracks, far south city, & Soulard. On Saturday it runs every hour.
  • 30 Arsenal is another route running through south city between Shrewsbury MetroLink and Civic Center Transit Center in Downtown West. It primarily uses Arsenal for the East-West portion and Broadway for the North-South.  The 30 runs every 40 minutes on Saturdays.
  • 31 Chouteau connects the Maplewood/Manchester MetroLink Station to Civic Center via Manchester in both the county & city, and Chouteau. It runs every hour on Saturdays.
  • 73 Carondelet serves both south county & city, every 30 minutes on Saturdays. Streets include: Michigan, Virginia, Osceola, Meramec,  Cherokee, Lemp, and Truman Parkway.
  • 80 Park-Shaw connects the CWE MetroLink to Civic Center via south city. Similar to 8 above, but the route is different. Every hour on Saturdays.

From North City — most will have a reroute in the downtown area due to the parade.

  • 4 Natural Bridge travels mostly along Natural Bridge, then using Parnell/Jefferson, usually to Market. Due to the parade it’ll reroute by staying on Jefferson to Chouteau to 14th to Civic Center. The 4 runs every 40 minutes on Saturdays.
  • 19 St. Louis Ave connects the Rock Road MetroLink to Civic Center, through the heart of The Ville. It runs every 40 minutes on Saturdays. Because 14th will be closed for the parade it’ll reroute to Olive, Jefferson, Chouteau, 14th — if you take this bus to the parade I suggest exiting at 14th & Olive.  The 19 runs every 40 minutes on Saturdays.
  • 32 ML King also connects Rock Road to Civic Center, a little further south than the 19. It uses ML King & Cass for East-West and 9th/10th for North-South. At Washington & Tucker it will due a massive reroute along Washington to Jefferson, to Chouteau, to 14th. Avoid the reroute and exit before Tucker. The 32 runs every 40 minutes on Saturdays.
  • 40 North Broadway connects Riverview to downtown, primarily along Broadway.  Like the 32 it reroutes along Washington from Broadway to Jefferson — avoid all that and get off at Broadway & Washington! The 40 runs every hour on Saturdays.
  • 41 Lee runs every 40 minutes between Riverview and downtown/Civic Center on streets like Thekla, Emerson, Lee, Kossuth, 20th, Carr. Like other bus routes, avoid the very long reroutes by exiting at 14th & Olive.
  • 74 Florissant runs every half hour connecting north county to downtown via West/North Florissant. Like others, exit at 14th & Olive to avoid the long reroute.

From West City:

  • 10 Gravois-Lindell was mentioned above on the South City section, but for those in midtown it’s a good option to get to Civic Center. It’ll reroute at Jefferson to Chouteau so either stay on the bus to Civic Center or exit at Olive & Jefferson and walk to the parade start at 18th & Market. Or take it WB to the CWE to catch the train downtown.
  • 94 Page runs every 40 minutes on Saturdays connecting Westport Plaza via Wellston to Civic Center. In the city it primarily uses Page, 18th, Market. Because of the parade it’ll reroute at 18th & Olive to Jefferson, Chouteau.  Either get off at 18th & Olive or continue to Civic Center.
  • 96 Market Street Shuttle runs every hour on Saturdays. This is an option for SLU/Harris Stowe students. It’ll reroute at Jefferson to Chouteau.
  • 97 Delmar connects Clayton to Civic Center via the Delmar/Loop MetroLink, running every 30 minutes on Saturdays. In the city it primarily uses Delmar, Compton (briefly) and Washington. Due to the parade it’ll reroute at Washington to Jefferson, to Chouteau.

The links above are to the regular map for each route, for a list of all MetroBus routes click here. Again, if you live in the city and plan to attend the parade please walk, bike, or use transit — bus and/or rail.  The cash fare each way is $2 — have $1 bills because you can’t get change on the bus. If you need to take more than one bus or bus plus rail you’ll need $3 each way for a transfer. For exact times, stop locations, etc use Google Maps, Apple Maps, the Transit App, or Metro’s Trip Planner.

Street parking isn’t free on Saturday, and lots will be charging a lot. Uber/Lyft will likely have surge pricing, plus will have to deal with lots of traffic. Take transit — light rail or MetroBus.

— Steve Patterson

 

9th & 10th Streets Need To Be Two-Way North of Cole Street

May 20, 2019 Featured, Neighborhoods, Planning & Design, Transportation, Walkability Comments Off on 9th & 10th Streets Need To Be Two-Way North of Cole Street

Five years ago I suggested 9th & 10th Streets through the Columbus Square neighborhood (Cole to Cass) be uncoupled so that both are two-way streets again. See Columbus Square: 9th & 10th Streets from May 19, 2014.

In short, 9th & 10th have been a one-way couplet (opposite directions) to facilitate vehicular travel between I-70 and downtown — passing through the Columbus Square neighborhood.  Due to the construction of the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge 9th/10th hasn’t connected to I-70 in 8-9 years. Yet, these excessively wide one-way streets remain through the neighborhood.

What has changed in the last five years?

I moved to the neighborhood nearly 5 months ago and 9th Street immediately south of Cole Street will close if the convention center is expanded. Living here, frequently crossing 9th & 10th, I can tell you they’re substantially wider than necessary. Being wide and one-way their design encourages drivers to travel at much higher speeds than should be in a residential neighborhood.

Five years ago the main obstacle to correcting this problem was the cost to alter/replace 3 traffic signals. The possible convention center expansion project includes significant changes to Cole Street — including new signals at 9th & 10th. That leaves only the relatively new signal at 9th & Cass to modify — minor work since 3 out of 4 approaches is currently two-way.  Some additional stop signs will be necessary at intersections between Cole & Cass.

Looking North on 9th Street toward Cass. It’s 44 feet from curb to curb.

We measured the width of 9th & 10th in various places five years ago, 9th @ Manhattan Place (south of Cass) was a very wide 44 feet. For comparison, Locust at 16th is a much busier street and is 42 feet wide. You need 8 feet for each parking lane, plus a max of 12 feet for each travel lane — a total of 40 feet. I’d prefer 10 or 11 foot travel lanes. There’s no money to physically narrow the streets, but a wide center “median” could be painted with stripes.

This pair of streets should’ve been returned to two-way during the 2010-2013 bridge project, but they weren’t. With the convention center project closing 9th and altering Cole, we’ve got another opportunity to correct the problem of one-way highway access streets through the center of a neighborhood — with an elementary school in between.

— Steve Patterson

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St. Patrick’s Day Myths; Early St. Louis Irish History

March 20, 2019 Car Sharing, Featured, History/Preservation, Popular Culture Comments Off on St. Patrick’s Day Myths; Early St. Louis Irish History

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya. I knew the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll was going to have a low response, the more controversial the subject, the more responses.

Q: Agree or disagree: Irishman Saint Patrick is celebrated today for bringing Christianity to Ireland, driving out snakes.

  • Strongly agree: 1 [6.67%]
  • Agree: 3 [20%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [6.67%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Disagree: 2 [13.33%]
  • Strongly disagree: 6 [40%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 2 [13.33%]

Most correctly disagreed. I say correct because everything stated in the poll question was false:

  • Patrick wasn’t Irish
  • Christianity was already in Ireland before Patrick
  • Ireland, an island, didn’t have an literal snakes

This reminds me of grade school in the early 70s, cutting shamrocks out of green construction paper, etc. We were taught myths that just aren’t accurate — including the color green!

The following is from the history.com article titled: “St. Patrick’s Day Myths Debunked“:

  • Myth: St. Patrick was Irish.
    Though one of Ireland’s patron saints, Patrick was born in what is now England, Scotland or Wales—interpretations vary widely—to a Christian deacon and his wife, probably around the year 390. According to the traditional narrative, at 16 he was enslaved by Irish raiders who attacked his home; they transported him to Ireland and held him captive there for six years. Patrick later fled to England, where he received religious instruction before returning to Ireland to serve as a missionary.
  • Myth: St. Patrick was British.
  • Myth: St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland.
  • Myth: St. Patrick banished snakes from the Emerald Isle.
  • Myth: Green has historically been associated with St. Patrick’s Day.
  • Myth: Popular St. Patrick’s Day festivities have their roots in Ireland.
  • Myth: Corned beef is a classic St. Patrick’s Day dish.

You can click the link above to read the debunking of each myth.

Irish-American immigrants celebrated St. Patrick’s Day as a show of their pride — despite lots of anti-Irish discrimination:

The refugees seeking haven in America were poor and disease-ridden. They threatened to take jobs away from Americans and strain welfare budgets. They practiced an alien religion and pledged allegiance to a foreign leader. They were bringing with them crime. They were accused of being rapists. And, worst of all, these undesirables were Irish. (history.com)

Sounds similar today’s anti-immigration rhetoric.

The money to build the Mullaphy Emigrant Home on N 13th was left by Bryan Mullanphy, the son of Irish immigrant John Mullanphy. Bryan Mullanphy was mayor in the 1840s.

Bryan’s  sister Anne Mullanphy  married Thomas Biddle. After his death she donated the land for St. Joseph’s church in what’s now known as the Columbus Square neighborhood.  Most Irish immigrants were poor living in tenements & flats stretching west to Jefferson, including what became known as the former [Kerry] Patch neighborhood:

The neighborhood’s boundaries shifted over time—Irish families moved farther west, as German, Polish, and Eastern European immigrants settled around them after the Civil War. But during its heyday, the Patch was generally described as being between N. 15th Street and Hogan Street, Division Street and Cass Avenue. The heart of the neighborhood was squeezed into the tight rectangle between 16th and 18th streets, Cass Avenue and O’Fallon Street—a few blocks east of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in near north St. Louis.

In the early 19th century, emigrants left Ireland to escape English political oppression. By 1847, during the height of An Gorta Mór, The Great Hunger, they flooded out of the country to escape starvation and death. As Diamond notes, the immigrants’ sheer numbers, as well as their religious affiliation—Catholic—did not endear them to second- and third-generation American Protestants, specifically the nativist Know Nothing movement, founded in 1845, the year the potato famine began. The level of disdain and outright hostility toward Irish immigrants in major American cities, including St. Louis, was reflected in ads for housekeepers, which indicated “NO IRISH NEED APPLY.” Earlier Irish immigrants who had blended into St. Louis society also castigated the new arrivals for not working hard enough to assimilate, Diamond adds. Patchers responded by banding together. (St. Louis Magazine)

Once Irish neighborhoods were razed for public housing projects: Cochran Gardens, Carr Square, and Pruitt-Igoe.

— Steve Patterson

 

Opinion: Closed Streets Do Not Reduce Crime

February 27, 2019 Crime, Featured, Transportation, Walkability Comments Off on Opinion: Closed Streets Do Not Reduce Crime

The recent non-scientific Sunday Poll was about closed streets and crime, prompted by a news story about new research at Saint Louis University:

St. Louis’ often-interrupted street grid is the outgrowth of the 1970s-era “defensible space” strategy to address rising crime championed by Oscar Newman, a prominent urban planner who was a Washington University architecture professor in the mid-1960s, according to the paper. That idea stems from the notion that an area is safer when residents feel a sense of ownership and control, which Newman described as allowing neighbors to focus their attention on “removing criminal activity from their communities.”

St. Louis became the birthplace of such ideas, according to the paper. And they haven’t had the desired effect. (Post-Dispatch)

Below is one such example where “Schoemehl pots”, just sections of sewer pipe, were used to limit vehicular traffic.

Schoemehl pots used in their traditional role of messing up the street grid, 2012 photo.

Their paper’s conclusion:

Oscar Newman’s defensible space theory is a product of St. Louis’s mid-century history. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that St. Louis also offers a large-scale implementation of defensible space in the street barriers that constrict swaths of the city’s geography. The barriers scattered across the city’s landscape are a testament not only to former Mayor Vincent Schoemehl, the elected official most closely associated with the barriers, but to Newman himself. We have developed the most comprehensive known list of closures in the city, and find that the density of closures is not associated with less crime in neighborhoods. Our finding is an important one for St. Louis, given that addressing crime is the argument being made explicitly in the legislation that authorizes more recent installations of barriers. For other municipalities that may be considering defensible space or other techniques to “design out” crime, our findings suggest that street closures are at best ineffective and at worst associated with higher rates of violent crime in neighborhoods. They may also have secondary effects on first responders’ ability to reach the neighborhoods they serve. (Research paper)

I completely agree with the conclusions of the researchers, but I also think they should be looking at earlier changes to the urban street grid. As I’ve said before, when Harold Bartholomew (1889-1989) first arrived in St. Louis in the nineteen teens he quickly began assaulting our fine network of public streets. Writing decades later in the 1947 plan:

Since 1916 St. Louis has expended over $40,000,000 in opening, widening, connecting, and extending the system of major streets. Much has been accomplished in converting a horse and buggy street system to automobile needs. As the total volume of traffic increases, however, certain new needs arise. An example is the desirability of grade separations at extremely heavy intersections, such as at Grand and Market and at Kingshighway and Lindell. Likewise there is a need for complete separation of grade where traffic volume is sufficiently heavy to justify the cost involved. The Federal Government, which has helped finance our splendid system of national highways, has recently revised its policies and Congress has appropriated substantial funds to aid the cities in the construction of express highways and for facilitation of traffic flows from certain selected state highways through metropolitan areas to the central business districts of large cities. (1947 Plan)

In just three decades St. Louis spent today’s equivalent of nearly a half a billion dollars on dramatic changes to the street grid.  Half a billion!

Franklin Ave looking East from 9th, 1928. Collection of the Landmarks Association of St Louis

The reference to the “horse and buggy street system” illustrates he didn’t think it was suitable for the automobile. Bartholomew, a civil engineer by training, was no doubt influenced by the City Beautiful movement.

City Beautiful movement, American urban-planning movement led by architects, landscape architects, and reformers that flourished between the 1890s and the 1920s. The idea of organized comprehensive urban planning arose in the United States from the City Beautiful movement, which claimed that design could not be separated from social issues and should encourage civic pride and engagement. (Britannica)

This was soon followed by the modernists and their vision for roads to connect everything. The Futurama exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair was hugely popular, helped shape legislation that let to destructive urban renewal projects, interstate highways slicing through cities, etc.  See original 23-minute 1939 Futurama promo video.

Oscar Newman was born in 1935, so he was barely around during the 1939 fair. With the Great Depression & WWII the ideas from Futurama were on hold until he was a teen. Newman likely went along with most others, not foreseeing any problems with additional alterations to the street grid.

By the time republished his 1972 book urban renewal & highway projects had further disrupted the street grid beyond recognition. These changes are cumulative, not isolated. Our street grid was designed for the horse and buggy times — but that’s what made it go great. Street grids can take little changes and still function. St. Louis had decades of massive overwhelming changes to the street grid.

It has proven to be excessive. Abandonment, crime, etc are the results. I don’t know that it’s repairable.

Former Biddle Street, looking East toward 9th Street

The results from Sunday’s non-scientific poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: City streets closed to through traffic reduce crime.

  • Strongly agree: 1 [3.13%]
  • Agree: 2 [6.25%]
  • Somewhat agree: 6 [18.75%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 2 [6.25%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [6.25%]
  • Disagree: 9 [28.13%]
  • Strongly disagree: 9 [28.13%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [3.13%]

More than half correct don’t think closed streets reduce crime.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

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