St. Louis Board of Aldermen Week 24 of 2017-2018 Session


 The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 24th week of the 2017-2018 session. No new bills were introduced last week. THIRTEEN (13) NEW BOARD BILLS ON THE AGENDA* FOR INTRODUCTION TODAY 11/17/17: *Note that just because a bill is on the agenda doesn’t mean it’ll be introduced, similarly, …

Readers: A Burrito Is Not A Sandwich


 A century ago retailers could lease or buy a storefront where they pleased, but with shopping centers/malls leases began to include clauses to exclude potential competition.A Boston-area franchisee of St. Louis-based Panera sued their landlord when it leased a space to a burrito place. The lease prohibited another sandwich place. …

The LRA’s 10 Smallest Properties For Sale.


 Last week I posted about the city’s Land Reutilization Authority, see Land Reutilization Authority Selling Vacant Lot That Is Less Than An Inch Wide. Today I want to highlight this property and nine others to make the 10 smallest properties for sale — out of 151 under 1,000 square feet. …

Sunday Poll: What Qualifies As A Sandwich?


 I’m still recovering from wrist surgery so this week’s poll is one I’ve been saving for a rainy day. Nothing too serious, yet highly controversial. Some have narrow definitions of s sandwich, while others have a more broad definition that includes hot dogs, tacos, and burritos. From Merriam-Webster: Definition of sandwich …

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Sunday Poll: Will You Be In The Path of Totality Tomorrow?

August 20, 2017 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Will You Be In The Path of Totality Tomorrow?
Please vote below

Tomorrow is the big day, the total solar eclipse.

For months, state highway officials from 14 states have been meeting regularly via conference call to plan for – or more importantly try to head off– what could be the largest traffic jam in U.S. history Monday, when an estimated 200 million people will be within a day’s drive of the path of the first total solar eclipse in 99 years.

The roughly 70-mile-wide path of totality – where the moon will block 100 percent of the sun – stretches from Oregon to South Carolina.

In Oregon, where the totality begins at 10:16 a.m. at Depoe Bay, officials have ordered extra-wide-load trucks off the highways through Tuesday to ease congestion, and in Madras, which has been identified by many experts as one of prime viewing locations, the National Guard is being called in to help control traffic.  (Post-Dispatch)

It has been impossible to escape talk of tomorrow’s eclipse. Today’s poll seeks to see how interested readers are in the eclipse.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight. Results tomorrow with another post on the eclipse.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Does the Opposite of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)

August 18, 2017 Featured, Planning & Design, Transportation Comments Off on St. Louis Does the Opposite of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)

Last month I wrote about a new book, an excellent design guide, see Reading: Urban Street Stormwater Guide by the National Association of City Transportation Officials. I loved it so much I asked the publisher to send me the rest pf the hardcover guides: Transit Street, Urban Bikeway, and Global Street. All information in the printed guide books is available for free online.

There are some here trying to get the City of St. Louis to become a member city of the National Association of Transportation Officials (NATCO). Who you ask?

NACTO’s mission is to build cities as places for people, with safe, sustainable, accessible and equitable transportation choices that support a strong economy and vibrant quality of life.

We do this by:

  • Communicating a bold vision for 21st century urban mobility and building strong leadership capacity among city transportation officials.
  • Empowering a coalition of cities to lead the way on transportation policy at the local, state, and national levels.
  • Raising the state of the practice for street design that prioritizes people walking, biking, and taking transit.

Here’s their intro video:

Since St. Louis, and the region by extension, does the opposite of what NACTO recommends, we could benefit greatly if the city joined — and followed their lead. But I doubt the traffic engineers in the Streets Dept and the like-minded engineers at the Board of Public Service are willing to change the way things have always been done.

Peer cities like Indianapolis, Memphis, and Nashville are affiliate members. Click image for their member cities page

Again, see various departments fighting NACTO’s recommendations. In the coming months I plan posts showing the NACTO way vs the St. Louis way.

— Steve Patterson

Readers Are Mostly Comfortable With Small Arch Tram Capsules

August 16, 2017 Featured Comments Off on Readers Are Mostly Comfortable With Small Arch Tram Capsules
Visitors must step up into the tram cars. They put this step out to help me but we ended up moving it out of the way.

Tram rides to the top of the Gateway Arch began just over fifty years ago, on July 24, 1967. A few weeks later, 50 years ago. yesterday, a najor malfunction occurred:

An eight-car tram is in the north leg of the Gateway Arch descended about forty feet from the observation gallery and stopped, trapping thirty-six passengers in semi-darkness. From 6:40 to 8:15P.M. the passengers waited calmly to be freed. Arch personnel moved the train back up to the observation deck with a winch. and passengers climbed out, descending the fifty-foot spiral staircase to the elevator halfway down the arch. The train ran no more that evening, and others waiting for a ride were given refunds. 

An even more harrowing entrapment occurred a few years later when a party of four was left in a capsule after the last tram was thought to have been vacated. The door of their capsule did not open and the trash was “parked” for the night. Lights in the Arch were extinguished and the air vents were shut off. Their screams went unheard, so one of the passengers, using a knife to pry open the catch, succeeded in getting the doors open. He climbed out on a foot-wide beam and helped the others across to the stairs and safety.

I’ve been up in the Arch twice in my 27+ years in St. Louis — once pre-stroke and once post-stroke. Getting into and out of the capsule was a challenge post-stroke, but I can’t imagine having to walk down a spiral stair. Though I’ve done so on the Texas Eagle train.

Thankfully, as part of all the work being done at the Arch the Trams were given a major update, this should ensure years of reliable service.

The results from the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: I’m uncomfortable while riding the Arch tram due to the small capsules.

  • Strongly agree 5 [17.24%]
  • Agree 1 [3.45%]
  • Somewhat agree 5 [17.24%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 3 [10.34%]
  • Somewhat disagree 2 [6.9%]
  • Disagree 8 [27.59%]
  • Strongly disagree 4 [13.79%]
  • Not Applicable/Unsure/No Answer 1 [3.45%]

More who voted are comfortable. I’ll go up a 3rd time once all the work, museum, etc are finished.

— Steve Patterson

The Civic Center MetroBus Transit Center Reopens Today…Smoke-Free!

August 14, 2017 Downtown, Featured, Public Transit, Transportation Comments Off on The Civic Center MetroBus Transit Center Reopens Today…Smoke-Free!


A look back at the original Civic Center MetroBus Center. The block North of Spruce had many trees.

In October 2011 many brown areas could be spotted on the evergreen trees
To prep for a new Civic Center bus transfer facility, all the trees were cut down. The Feds will require Metro to plant new trees
The official route from 14th to the MetroLink platform involves steps or two switchback ramps

The new design is substantially different, it has 3 times as many bus bays. First we have to get to it. For both the ribbon cutting (8/10) and open house (8/11) I arrived from the North on the West side of 14th Street (next to Peabody Opera/Scottrade Center). Both times I had to take a detour, hopefully this morning this is open.

AS I arrived for the open house I saw Fredbird walking on 14th because the sidewalk at the corner was closed.
Moments later Fredbird made it around the corner
Later I made it around to the other side, it appears done so hopefully the fencing is pulled back today. The North plaza area, left, is still being finished.
To accèss Civic Center I usd ri go West along Clark, almost to 16th. I couldn’t get to 14th & Spruce because the sidewalks don’t connect on the East side of 14th, which surprised some Metro officials.
On Thursday holes were being dug for a new fence along Clark.
Since opening in 1993 this sidewalk has been too narrow. now the added fence is close leaving no room for people to step side on the South
Heading up the West ramp to the building
Looking back to where I’d been.
Once the corner st 14th & Clark is open pedestrians will use a 14th Street sidewalk not filled with bus stops. Trees will be planted, providing separation from the traffic lane.
Those pedestrians who approach from the South will likely take a shortcut, those of us in mobility devices don’t have that option because bio ramp is provided on the South end
There are several very long crosswalks, the able-bodied will take less risky short-cuts
Some will enter any 14th & Spruce, facing the new building. The MetroLink platform ids beyond, with Amshack 3 beyond that.
Inside the building are restrooms, concessions, security, etc
Each bank of seating has an outlet, carry your phone charger
Like North County TC, the bathrooms don’t have doors . Great for those of us who use a mobility device
From the building you can look down at the MetroLink platform
View of the building from the platform
View north from the steps next to the building
Trees, plants, and art will be installed at the North this full .

At the ribbon cutting on Thursday Metro Transit Exec Dir Ray Friem was adamant Civic Center would open allowing smoking, like their other bus centers. I argued this was the perfect time to make Civic Center smoke-free. Metro staff told me their inconsistent policy of no-smoking on train platforms but smoking at bus shelters on their private property had been the subject of many internal debates over the years. Friem said Metro would go smoke0-free, he just didn’t know how or when.  I rallied others to talk to Friem. It worked.

Metro has announced Civic Center is opening smoke-free, other bus transit centers will go smoke0-free  next month. Finally I can change buses at a transit center without having my eyes water or throat close because of smokers around me.

Four bus routes are being split up:

  • The #30 is being split into the #19 St. Louis Ave and #30 Arsenal
  • The #32 M.L. King-Chouteau is being split into the #31 Chouteau and #32 M.L. King.
  • The #40 Broadway route becomes the #20 S. Broadway and #40 N. Broadway  — yes, both are being routes through Civic Center.
  • The #99 Downtown Trolley is having a West portion split off into the #96 Market Street Shuttle.

You can read all the changes here.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Are You Uncomfortable In The Arch Tram?

August 13, 2017 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Are You Uncomfortable In The Arch Tram?
Please vote below

I’d guess that most of you reading this post have been up in the Gateway Arch at least once. Today’s poll question is curious if you get uncomfortable doing so.

This poll will close at 8pm

— Steve Patterson