Reading: Within Walking Distance: Creating Livable Communities For All by Philip Langdon

 

 Last week I received a new book that immediately caught my attention. Within Walking Distance: Creating Livable Communities For All speaks to a core personal issue for me — walkability. Before the personal automobile displaced public transit, most everything in American cities was within walking distance. For nearly a century now Euclidean, …

Sunday Poll: Should Missouri Close Interstate Rest Areas?

 

 Missouri has low fuel taxes and the legislature is unwilling to increase it. Maintenance needs remain. Some states in this situation have opted to closer rest areas: For more than half a century, old-fashioned, no-frills highway rest stops have welcomed motorists looking for a break from the road, a bathroom …

Lyda Krewson Is The 5th Mayor Since I Moved To St. Louis

 

 On Tuesday, while waiting for the inauguration of our first new mayor in 16 years, I reflected on the mayors we’ve had since I moved here in August 1990. For many of you, Francis Slay has been the only mayor you’ve had as a voting-age adult. This could be because …

Opinion: Turnstiles Are For Fare Collection, Not Public Safety

 

 Many, including regional elected officials, letters to the editor, and others, are pushing the idea of turnstiles as a way to increase public safety on our MetroLink light rail system. Incredibly ill-informed because turnstiles, physical & virtual, are meant to combat fare-evasion. Heavy rail systems like Chicago’s EL, the NYC …

Recent Articles:

Opinion: Loop Trolley Will Surprise Naysayers

March 22, 2017 Featured, Transportation Comments Off on Opinion: Loop Trolley Will Surprise Naysayers
 

I’m not a huge fan of vintage/heritage streetcar/trolley lines — I much prefer modern streetcar lines

using 21st century low-floor vehicles (see Kansas City’s streetcar). I have ridden vintage/heritage lines in San Francisco, Little Rock, New Orleans, and Memphis. I wanted to ride the one in Dallas after becoming disabled, but it isn’t wheelchair accessible. The Loop Trolley, in testing now, will be accessible. Lifts will be on all vehicles to help with wheelchairs, strollers, etc. I’d still much rather see a modern streetcar line to reduce car use and increase transit ridership.

So I must agree with just over half the readers in thinking the Loop Trolly will be an expensive flop? Not at all.

December 2014 photo of new housing at Delmar & Hamilton, and renovated building to the North — both just West of the Loop Trolley headquarters

It is true the Loop Trolley won’t make a significant impact on transportation use in the region or even within the Loop.  Public investment in new infrastructure can result in very positive outcomes. The huge investment in the Washington Ave streetscape some 15 years ago is still paying dividends. Many long-vacant warehouses have been occupied for years. The Loop Trolley investment will have a profound impact along the route over the next 15-25 years.

Some say the Loop is already served by MetroLink. Yes, one station is on Delmar. Suppose visitors downtown decide they want to have dinner in the Loop — at The Melting Pot — are they going to walk nearby a mile (8/10ths) from the <MetroLink station to the restaurant and back? Highly unlikely. The Loop Trolly will step in to address the Loop’s last mile problem:

What is public transit’s first-mile/last-mile (FM/LM) problem? It begins with a ¼ mile. Most people in the United States are “comfortable” walking less than a ¼ mile to or from public transit stops. The problem arises when a potential rider is further than a “comfortable distance” to the necessary fixed-route stop. Of course, what you define as a “comfortable distance” may be very different than what I consider to be a “comfortable distance,” and this distance may vary based on uncontrollable variables such as weather and time of day. (Source)

Conversely, the new Loop Trolley will allow people to live car-free in new apartments/condos and get to MetroLink to take them to work West in Clayton or East at BJC, Cortex, SLU, or downtown.

A long-vacant school building is now the headquarters and maintenance facility.
Tracks leading to the storage & maintenance area
The green car over the service pit is a Melbourne car from Seattle, the red car is 001
Another view of the service pit

increase mobility within the Loop, especially to the newer area East of Skinker will increase foot traffic and hopefully reduce vehicular traffic and the associated parking issues.

Q: Agree or disagree: the Loop Trolley will be a costly flop

  • Strongly agree 10 [18.87%]
  • Agree 9 [16.98%]
  • Somewhat agree 8 [15.09%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 1 [1.89%]
  • Somewhat disagree 8 [15.09%]
  • Disagree 8 [15.09%]
  • Strongly disagree 5 [9.43%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 4 [7.55%]

Based on new construction that has already happened I’d say the Loop Trolley is already off to a good start.

 

— Steve Patterson

Safety Expert Killed Crossing 4th Street 15 Years Ago Today.

March 20, 2017 Downtown, Featured, Walkability Comments Off on Safety Expert Killed Crossing 4th Street 15 Years Ago Today.
 

I post often about the poor pedestrian conditions in downtown St. Louis — such as these from last year:

Fifteen years ago this morning a safety expert was killed while walking across 4th street.

ST. LOUIS — A Washington state woman who was one of the country’s top experts on bicycle and pedestrian safety was killed yesterday morning when she was struck by a tour bus while crossing a downtown intersection here.

Susie Stephens, 36, of Winthrop, Wash., was struck shortly after 8:30 a.m. 

The driver of the Vandalia Bus Lines vehicle told police he did not see Stephens as he made a left turn.

Stephens, a consultant, was in St. Louis to help stage a conference on innovative approaches to transportation sponsored by the Forest Service, said William “Bill” Wilkinson of the National Center for Bicycling and Walking in Washington.

Stevens was just a year older than me.

This intersection has been improved, the crosswalk length shortened. However, pedestrians don’t get an advance signal to give them a head start.

There have been numerous events remembering her since she was killed here, this one from 2015 is touching:

The 2015 Stihl Tour des Trees began in Orlando Oct. 25. From there the group cycled 103 miles to Ruskin. Then 70 miles to Sarasota and 93 miles to Punta Gorda. Wednesday morning the group left for the 70 mile ride to Matlacha Park where they planned to plant a Live Oak Tree.

“In the course of this tour we will plant 13 new trees,” DiCarlo said. “Today’s tree is dedicated to Susie Stevens and The Susie Forest. Sadly Susie Stevens was struck and killed by a bus crossing the street in St. Louis in 2002. Her mother, Nancy McCarrow, has been volunteering for many years with the Stihl Tour des Trees planting trees in remembrance of her daughter. We call this collection of trees ‘The Susie Forest’. (Source)

Hopefully the next mayor will take pedestrian experience & safety seriously.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Will The Loop Trolley Be A Successes or Failure?

March 19, 2017 Featured, Public Transit, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Will The Loop Trolley Be A Successes or Failure?
 
Please vote below

Testing of car 001 will begin soon on the Loop Trolley project — a 2.2 mile vintage streetcar line. Initially the car will be pulled by a truck to test tolerances , followed by powering up the overhead wires so it can run on its own.

Few projects have been so controversial:

Supporters say the trolley will bring in visitors and be a boon for businesses. They also say the trolley is being built for significantly less than streetcar lines in other cities, even though it surpassed its initial $43 million estimate, in part because of street paving and landscaping costs.

“The fixed-track nature does attract investment,” Edwards said, citing as an example a new 14-story, $66 million apartment building in the Loop at 6105 Delmar Boulevard, where the trolley will run.

Critics say that the trolley duplicates current mass transit — a MetroLink line runs between the Forest Park and Delmar stations — and that the project’s cost is too high. Businesses were hurt by construction, spurring a forgivable loans program.

Trolley opponents filed in 2015 a lawsuit in St. Louis County Circuit Court seeking to block the trolley. The suit contends the trolley will go beyond its authorized boundaries. No ruling has been issued. (Post-Dispatch)

Since the project is nearing the ribbon cutting I thought it would be good to see where readers side:

The poll will close at 8pm, I’ll share my thoughts on Wednesday. This poll will be monitored for the 12-hour duration — if it appears a campaign is underway to sway the results either way it’ll be shut down early.

— Steve Patterson

Some Local Media Confused On Write-In vs Independent Candidacy

March 17, 2017 Featured, Media, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Some Local Media Confused On Write-In vs Independent Candidacy
 
Vintage photo of the former offices of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. From my collection

Late last week new state rep Bruce Franks Jr. was considering a run for mayor as a write-in candidate, but half a day later he decided not to leave the 78th district that elected him to replace Penny Hubbard.

Today’s post isn’t about Franks or the mayoral race — it’s about write-in vs independent candidates. Some local media understands the difference, some do not.  Below are three reports when Franks was considering a write-in campaign:

Post-Dispatch:

Under state law, Franks has to sign a declaration of intent and deliver it the Board of Election Commissioners by March 24 to become certified as a write-in candidate. 

Fox2:

Earlier Thursday afternoon, Franks sent a tweet posing a simple question: has St. Louis elected a write-in candidate as mayor?

Franks has until March 24 to obtain the necessary signatures, sign a declaration of intent, and deliver them to the Board of Election Commissioners to appear on the ballot.

And KMOV:

In order for Franks to be on the April 4 ballot, state law requires franks get necessary signatures, sign a declaration of intent and deliver them to the Board of Election Commissioners by March 24. 

The last two mention required signatures but the first doesn’t. All three mention a declaration of intent. So what’s the deal? Let’s start with Fox2’s last sentence:  “Franks has until March 24 to obtain the necessary signatures, sign a declaration of intent, and deliver them to the Board of Election Commissioners to appear on the ballot.” (Emphasis added)

Yes, signatures are required if a candidate wants to appear on a general election ballot as an independent (non-party) candidate. A write-in candidate, however, is trying to get voters to write-in their name because they’re not on the ballot.

I shouldn’t be surprised some media didn’t get this right, the St. Louis Board of Elections page How To File For Office fails to explain th three types of candidacy: political party, independent, and write-in.  The Missouri Secretary of State website does a much better job of explaining this to candidates:

Primary Election August 7, 2018
The 2018 primary will be held on Tuesday, August 7, 2018 (the 1st Tuesday after the 1st Monday in August for even numbered years, Section 115.121.2, RSMo.). The filing period for candidates for the August 2018 primary election is from February 27, 2018 and ends at 5:00 p.m. on March 27, 2018. (Section 115.349, RSMo.) Individuals voting in the primary election may select a party ballot of his or her choice. 

Voters who do not wish to select a party ballot may request a ballot containing other issues, if their jurisdiction’s ballot contains issues.

The five established parties in Missouri are: Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Green, and Constitution.

 

Independent Candidates
Deadline for submitting petitions for independent candidate nominations for the November 6, 2018 election: 5:00 p.m. July 30, 2018 (Section 115.329.1, RSMo.)

 

Write-in Candidates
Deadline for submitting a write-in candidate declaration of intent for the November 6, 2018 election: 5:00 p.m. October 26, 2018 (Section 115.453(4), RSMo.)

A write-in candidate is a person whose name is not printed on the ballot (Section 115.453(4-6), RSMo.) and who has filed a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate for election to office with the proper election authority prior to 5:00 p.m. on October 26, 2018 (Section 115.453(4), RSMo.) It is not necessary to file a declaration of intent if there are no candidates on the ballot for that office (Section 115.453(4), RSMo.)

 

Establishing a New Party
The deadline for submitting petitions for new parties and candidate nominations for the November 6, 2018 election is 5:00 p.m. on July 30, 2018 (Section 115.329.1, RSMo.) Please contact the Elections Division for more information at 573-751-2301 or email at [email protected]

Locally officials don’t want the public to know how to run, but the April 4th ballot includes 6 candidates for mayor.  Writing in a name for someone not officially declared as an independent candidate doesn’t count — even if that name got the most votes.

— Steve Patterson

Readers: City & County Will Show Population Loss In 2020

March 15, 2017 Featured, St. Charles County, St. Louis County Comments Off on Readers: City & County Will Show Population Loss In 2020
 

In a non-scientific Sunday Poll two years ago, just over half the respondents thought the city’s population would decline in the 2020 census.  In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll I asked about the city AND county population.

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis (city) AND St. Louis County will both lose population in the 2020 Census.

  • Strongly agree 6 [16.67%]
  • Agree 8 [22.22%]
  • Somewhat agree 8 [22.22%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree 6 [16.67%]
  • Disagree 6 [16.67%]
  • Strongly disagree 1 [2.78%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [2.78%]

More than 60% think both city & county will lose population when the next census is held in 3 years. I agree.

The city’s 2010 loss was less than 10%
In 2010 St. Louis County experienced a population decline for the first time since St. Louis City left in 1876

The factors that led to the declines in both remain — the county had its first decline in 2010. Since the 2010 census St. Charles County has continued to grow. school districts are struggling to keep pace with more students. The middle class continues to leave St. Louis County for St. Charles County and the city’s poor continue to move to St. Louis County for better schools & housing.

It was very different 55 years ago, as noted by a 2013 STL 250 Facebook post:

This Day in St. Louis History, March 15, 1962:
St. Louis County overtakes St. Louis City in population

The American Statistical Association’s St. Louis Chapter Metropolitan Census Committee listed the population of St. Louis County as 762,000, and the population of St. Louis City at 740,000. For the first time in history, the population of St. Louis County exceeded that of St. Louis City. The recent creation of the Interstate Highway System would drastically change the lives of American cities forever, with St. Louis taking a particularly extreme stance as those with means fled outwards from the center. St. Louis County’s population had begun rising steadily around the turn of the century, but in the post-World War II years, it jumped with shocking speed. From 1950 to 1960, the population of St. Louis County jumped from 406,349 to 703,532. Meanwhile, St. Louis City had experienced its first population loss in history in the 1960 census. Dark days were still ahead… from 1970 – 1980, St. Louis City would lose 27% of its population.

In the 1947 Comprehensive Plan Harland Bartholomew had predicted St. Louis’ population would reach 900k by 1970:

The City of St. Louis can anticipate a population of 900,000 persons by 1970, based on these assumptions:

  1. That the population of the St. Louis Metropolitan District continues to maintain its present proportion to total urban population of the United States.
  2. That an attractive environment for living will be developed throughout the city to counteract current decentralization trends.
  3. That the city is, nevertheless, a maturing urban center that can never expect to attain the tremendous past growth of certain earlier periods.

Bartholomew knew the big population increases wouldn’t happen, but he still anticipated modest gains in 1960 & 1970 — not the huge losses that actually occurred. I’ll be highly surprised if both city & county don’t show continued loss of residents.

— Steve Patterson

 

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