Missouri Is A Solid Red State

 

 When I moved to Missouri in 1990 it was a swing state, a bellwether: The Missouri bellwether is a political phenomenon that notes that the state of Missouri voted for the winner in all but three U.S. Presidential elections from 1904 to 2016 (the exceptions are 1956, 2008 and 2012). …

Examining the St. Louis MLS Stadium Site Plan, Part 3

 

 Today I continue my detailed look at the proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium site plan and surroundings. In part 1 I looked at the stadium and practice fields to the south of Market Street. In part 2 I looked at the need for a pedestrian crossing at 21st & Olive, plus …

Sunday Poll: Will Missouri Go Red or Blue In The 2020 General Election?

 

 Missouri’s Presidential Preference Primary is less than 100 days away, on Tuesday March 10, 2020. We don’t yet know who the Democrats will nominate at the end of their convention in July 2020, in Milwaukee, WI. A number of states aren’t even holding a GOP primary, but Missouri’s GOP primary …

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 25 of 2019-2020 Session

 

 The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 25th meeting of the 2019-2020 session. As previously noted, they have the first two meetings labeled as Week #1, so they list this as week/meeting 24. Today’s agenda includes eight (8) new bills. B.B.#174 – Muhammad – An ordinance establishing a …

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Charging Electric Vehicles Part 1: Charging Stations

October 21, 2019 Featured, Transportation Comments Off on Charging Electric Vehicles Part 1: Charging Stations
 

Though I’ve had a couple of car-free periods, I’ve owned a car most of the nearly 37 years since I got my driver’s license. All my 17 vehicles have had an internal combustion engine (ICE).

I’ve wanted a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or electric vehicle (EV) for a while now. We even had a Tesla Model S at our 2014 wedding.  Eventually we’ll have a more more fuel efficient vehicle.

A friend’s new Tesla Model 3 on South Grand

More and more friends now have EVs. Recently a friend picked me up for lunch in her new Tesla Model 3 (shown above). Another friend and his wife are new owners of a Chevy Bolt. As an apartment dweller the idea of home charging seems challenging, if not impossible.

Last month I shared the following on this blog’s Facebook page:

Would be nice to see a former/current gas station in St. Louis go this direction…“The first gas station in the U.S….

Posted by UrbanReview ST LOUIS on Friday, September 27, 2019

Here’s a direct link to the CNBC article.

The St. Louis region has hundreds of current and former gas stations, it would be nice to see just one make the switch. But where? With most EV owners charging at home at night, with some able to  at work during the day, is there a need for such a charging station?

I remember when this former BP gas station was built at Lackland & Midland, it closed sometime between 2008 & 2012.

One thing is certain, as society switches from ICE vehicles to EVs many more gas stations will close. There just won’t be the need for some much of our metropolitan area devoted to refueling ICE vehicles.  Perhaps as we transition from ownership to autonomous vehicles, that we just summon as needed, current gas stations will become places for these vehicles to wait for the next customer.

The St. Louis region does have EV charges spread around, but many are hit or miss. If everyone is charging at home and their EV gets over 200 miles on a charge why bother with public charging stations? Well, an owner might drive more miles than originally planned. Others might be visiting St. Louis and want to add to their available distance.

A Chevy Bolt EV charging at 620 Lucas in downtown St. Louis.
Google Maps & PlugShare.org list this auto body shop at St. Charles Rock Rd & Hanley as a place to charge your EV. Perhaps when they’re open…

With EV prices now within reach of Millennial and Gen-Z buyers they’ll become more common. More manufacturers are releasing EVs, or will within the new few years. These include a second Porsche EV, the first of five Volvo EVs, and future ID models from Volkswagen. Ford is planning several EVs, including a Mustang-inspired crossover.

To facilitate sales when EVs arrive in Ford showrooms, they recently announced access to a charger network:

Ford doesn’t currently offer any electric vehicles, but it announced Thursday that, once it does, it will offer the largest North American network of electric vehicle chargers of any automaker — including Tesla.

Unlike Tesla, though, Ford didn’t build this charging network on its own. Working with EV charging companies Greenlots and Electrify America, Ford has created what it calls the FordPass Charging Network. When needed, users will be directed to one of the network’s chargers using an app or in the vehicle’s central touch screen. (CNN)

It’ll be interesting to see if two years of free charging helps move Ford EVs. In a future post I’ll look at issues & solutions regarding home charging, including at apartments and on street. I’d also like to do a post on redeveloping former gas stations.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Will Paul McKee’s Urgent Care, Hospital, and Medical School Open By June 2023?

October 20, 2019 Featured, North City, NorthSide Project, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Will Paul McKee’s Urgent Care, Hospital, and Medical School Open By June 2023?
 
Please vote below

On Friday the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved a bill (103aa) worth $8 million in incentives for developer Paul McKee:

The bill, which passed on a 23-2 vote, will help fund a three-bed urgent care center at Jefferson and Cass avenues that, along with infrastructure improvements, will cost about $21 million.

Under a revised plan negotiated with city development officials, developers must prove by the end if 2021 that they have financing for a larger second phase beyond the initial three-bed facility in order to qualify for all the tax-increment financing, or TIF, subsidies.

That second phase — a $73 million, 103,000-square-foot hospital with a medical school  — would have to be completed by June 2023 before some  subsidies are paid. (Post-Dispatch)

Today’s poll is about this subject.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 19 of 2019-2020 Session

October 18, 2019 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 19 of 2019-2020 Session
 

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 15th meeting of the 2019-2020 session. As previously noted, they have the first two meetings labeled as Week #1, so they list this as week/meeting 18.

Today’s agenda includes six (6) new bills.

  • B.B.#129 – Arnowitz – An ordinance authorizing and directing the Director of the Department of Human Services, on behalf of the City of St. Louis, to accept a Grant Award from the Family and Community Trust in the amount of $35,000.00 from the No Kid Hungry Missouri SY19 Summer Special Grant Program and to expend those funds as a part of the City of St. Louis Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) – After School Meal Program and the Summer Food Service Programs (SFSP) starting in the 2019-2020 school year as set forth in the Grant Agreement, attached hereto as Exhibit A; appropriating said funds and authorizing the Director of Human Services, upon approval of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, to expend such funds as permitted by the Grant Award Agreement; and containing an Emergency Clause.
  • B.B.#130 – Arnowitz – An ordinance adopting the Uniform Plumbing Code, 2015 Edition, as the Plumbing Code of the City of Saint Louis; repealing Ordinance 66615, which adopted the Uniform Plumbing Code, 2003 Edition; repealing Ordinance 61713, Ordinance 62610, Ordinance 62682, Ordinance 65031 and Ordinance 65932, all of which modified Ordinance 60826; and containing a penalty clause, a savings clause and an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#131 – Guenther – An Ordinance recommended by the Planning Commission on October 8, 2019, to change the zoning of property as indicated on the District Map and in City Block 761, from “K” Unrestricted District to the “J” Industrial District, at 423 Lynch Street, so as to include the described parcel of land in City Block 761; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#132 – Hubbard – Pursuant to Ordinance 68937, an ordinance authorizing the honorary street name Karlie Kloss Way, which shall begin at the intersection of Washington Avenue and North 16th Street and run east on Washington Avenue to the intersection of Washington Avenue and North 15th Street.
  • B.B.#133 – Narayan – An Ordinance recommended by the Planning Commission on October 8, 2019, to change the zoning of property as indicated on the District Map, from “A” Single- Family Dwelling District to the “C” Multiple-Family Dwelling District, in City Block 4625.04 (6845, 6847 & 6849 Bruno and 2156-58 & 2190 Forest), so as to include the described parcel of land in City Block 4625.04; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#134 – Spencer – An ordinance directing the installation of signs, as specified in this ordinance, notifying individuals that City of St. Louis parks and parks facilities or child-care facilities under Section 210.201 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri, and that as child-care facilities the possession and carrying of firearms are prohibited under Section 571.107(11) of the Revised Statutes of Missouri.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2019-2020 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

Readers Opposed To Loop Trolley Bailout

October 16, 2019 Featured, Public Transit, St. Louis County, STL Region, Transportation Comments Off on Readers Opposed To Loop Trolley Bailout
 

I’m a huge fan of modern streetcars, like the line in Kansas City, but I’m indifferent to “heritage” trollies that use vintage or reproduction of early 20th century equipment. They’re great for nostalgia buffs, Instagram-worth photos, etc. Actual transportation?  Sorta, mostly for tourists.

Loop Trolley 001

Many comments I read online said the Loop Trolley was a bad idea from the start. Yes and no. Most of the established businesses in the Delmar Loop are further than a quarter-mile walk from the Delmar MetroLink (light rail) station — that’s the maximum distance most people are wiling to walk.  The #97 MetroBus runs on the Delmar portion of the Loop Trolley, but it only runs every 30 minutes. Plus, many in our region view the bus as poor people transit. And the bus doesn’t encourage millions in new dense infill construction the way expensive fixed-rail projects do.

New construction on a site long occupied by a gas station. Delmar & Skinker. The Loop Trolley’s power line is visible. August 2019.

So providing a rail system to get people the last mile to/from a transit station was actually a good idea. The problem was Joe Edwards, the Loop’s longtime advocate, insisted the vehicles be vintage trolley cars — not better modern streetcars. Modern low-floor streetcars are easy to board & exit — including for those of us using wheelchairs. Families pushing strollers also find modern low-floor streetcars to be very convenient. Vintage high-floor trolley vehicles, are the opposite.

Joe Edwards as Mr. Rogers, from Facebook. Original source unknown.

At one point a consultant on the project told me he was pushing to future-proof  the design so modern streetcars, known as trams elsewhere in the world, could eventually replace the vintage cars. Unfortunately, he didn’t prevail. Had the system been built for modern low-floor vehicles it would be straightforward to make the system actually serve local transit needs, with a future expansion east on Delmar. But no, we’ve got a system that’ll only work with vintage cars that Seattle no longer wanted.  Seattle does have a nice modern low-floor streetcar system.

Some project info from the Loop Trolley website:

Who owns and operates the trolley system? 
The Loop Trolley is owned by the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District (LTTDD) and will be operated by the Loop Trolley Company, a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

How much did this project cost to build?  
The construction budget for the Loop Trolley project is $51 million, or $17 million per track mile. This is on the low side in comparison to other recently constructed streetcar systems such as Cincinnati ($36.76M/track mile), Tucson ($28.26M/track mile), Kansas City ($25.35M//track mile) and Portland ($22.43M/track mile).

How is construction and operations funded:
The primary construction funding came via a $25 million FTA Urban Circulator grant. Funding also comes from other federal grants (CMAQ, STP), a TIF, New Market Tax Credits, St. Louis County Transportation Fund, Great Rivers Greenway, Washington University, and Loop Trolley Transportation Development District sales taxes and donations. A combination of fares, advertising and LTTDD sales taxes will fund operations.

Who supported the effort to restore trolley service in St. Louis?
In addition to the Federal Transit Administration and the Loop Trolley Company, other supporters include St. Louis County, Great Rivers Greenway, Washington University, the City of St. Louis, University City,  the Missouri History Museum, East-West Gateway Council of Governments, Citizens for Modern Transit, our congressional delegation, The Loop Special Business District, and many businesses, neighborhood groups and residents. 

Now the very non-profit says they need $700k to prevent becoming insolvent. The city already said no, now the St. Louis County Council doesn’t plan to take up the request. There was a time Joe Edwards could do no wrong, so he got his way on this. Too bad politicians, business executives, etc didn’t learn to say no to Edwards — at least have modern low-floor streetcars from the start or be able to add them later.

Here are the results from the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis City & County should equally help the Loop Trolley Co. so it doesn’t become insolvent.

  • Strongly agree: 7 [11.86%]
  • Agree: 4 [6.78%]
  • Somewhat agree: 5 [8.47%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [1.69%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 3 [5.08%]
  • Disagree: 11 [18.64%]
  • Strongly disagree: 28 [47.46%]

The Post-Dispatch Editorial Board agrees with the majority.

It was bad business from the beginning for the trolley’s promoters to have failed to foresee the low rider interest and economic challenges that led to the current crisis, and it’s bad business for the region’s leaders to keep throwing money at it. If this project is still as viable as its promoters claim it to be, let private sources cover these shortfalls. The taxpayers have done enough.

I’m torn.  I was hoping the trolley would spur new development in the city portion of the route, but this land may sit vacant for years to come.  Abandoning a project after tens of millions have been invested will have repercussions for decades to come. But I know money shouldn’t go to the non-profit that got us to this point.

Perhaps Metro (aka Bi-State Development) can take it all off their hands? Then your local monthly pass, 2-hour transfer, or Gateway Card will work for fare payment. Other than Metro, I don’t see a solution — not necessarily a good solution, but an effort to try something different to save face as a region.

— Steve Patterson

New Book — ‘When The Blues Go Marching In: An Illustrated Timeline of St. Louis Blues Hockey’ (Championship Edition) by Dan O’Neil

October 14, 2019 Books, Featured, Popular Culture Comments Off on New Book — ‘When The Blues Go Marching In: An Illustrated Timeline of St. Louis Blues Hockey’ (Championship Edition) by Dan O’Neil
 

Regular readers know I’m not a sports fan, but I can get caught up in the moment when a St. Louis team is close to winning a championship. When the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup one of my first thoughts was wondering when I’d see a Blues hockey book.

The answer was last Friday — that’s when I received a review copy of  ‘When The Blues Go Marching In: An Illustrated Timeline of St. Louis Blues Hockey’ (Championship Edition) by Dan O’Neil.

When I finished the first edition of this book, the Blues had gone 50 seasons without capturing the NHL’s ultimate prize. Then came their 51st season, unprecedented and improbable. Nineteen inconsistent games into the 2018-19 schedule, the Blues made a coaching change. Thirty-seven games in, they possessed the fewest points in the 31-team league. Playoffs were a pipe dream, and the Stanley Cup seemed more distant than ever. But steadied by an interim coach, lifted by a rookie goaltender, and sparked by a record winning streak, a storybook unfolded. And with it came a mandate to revisit this volume, to account for the most remarkable episode of all—the rags-to-riches tale of a Stanley Cup championship. (Reedy Press)

This is a new edition of a prior book. It’s entirely chronological starting  with the 1967 expansion of the National Hockey League (NHL) and concluding with the Stanley Cup win. In between these are important dates and the story behind that date — changes to players, coaches, and owners; memorable plays, etc.

There are some upcoming events that you might find of interest:

  • Presentation and Book Signing:

Wednesday, October 30; 7pm-8pm
Grant’s View Branch of the St. Louis County Library
9700 Musick Ave
St. Louis, MO 63123

  • Book Signing

Friday, November 8; 5pm to 8pm
Blend Salon and Spa
7401 Manchester Ave, Suite 200
Maplewood, MO 63143

If you’re a Blues hockey fan this is the book for you.

— Steve Patterson

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