Checking Out New Pedestrian Bridge Over I-70 Connecting Old North St. Louis and Near North Riverfront Neighborhoods

 

 In December 2018 MoDOT temporarily closed I-70 to remove an old pedestrian bridge at North Market Street. A similar pedestrian bridge was removed from over I-44 at Marconi Ave, and at other locations.  Yesterday I checked out the new ADA-compliant replacement over I-70. Before getting into the new bridge we …

Checking Out Giant Touch Screen Information Kiosks

 

 Way back in January I saw a news story that interested me, but it was too cold out — eight new information kiosks had gone online. The vertical touch screen information centers provide visitors and residents with information on restaurants and attractions as well as local resources and services. Kyle …

A St. Louis Statue to be Proud of: Frankie Freeman in Kiener Plaza

 

 Recently there have been renewed calls for the removal of statues honoring confederates. Just yesterday: On Wednesday, the House took a pivotal first step in an overwhelming vote to remove a bust of the fifth chief justice of the United States and Confederate statues from public display in the U.S. …

A Look at 207 North Sixth Street, Charlie Gitto’s Pasta House Since 1978

 

 When I first saw Charlie Gitto’s restaurant at 207 North 6th Street many years ago I imagined a small business owner fighting Famous-Barr department store parent company, The May Department Stores Company, to keep its small downtown restaurant open. Sounds good, right? But it was way off. My first clue …

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Speed Limit on Tucker Blvd is 35mph, but 7/10th of a Mile is 30mph

March 16, 2020 Featured, Planning & Design, Transportation Comments Off on Speed Limit on Tucker Blvd is 35mph, but 7/10th of a Mile is 30mph
 

I’ve written before about using the adaptive cruise control on our 2015 Hyundai (see Inching Toward Autonomous Vehicles, Learning to Use & Trust New Technology). I use the system if I’m going over 20mph.  I like to set the cruise speed based on the posted speed limit.

Thankfully both the Hyundai map screen and, if using instead, the Apple CarPlay map screen, display the speed for the road I’m on.  The accuracy is amazing, even when the speed limit changes. For example, driving to Springfield IL the highway limit can be 55, 60, 65, or 70 depending upon location. The screens change just as the limit changes.

This has helped me notice the different speed limits on Tucker Boulevard. The entire length it’s 35mph — except a few blocks are 30mph. Driving to Target from the Columbus Square neighborhood I head south on Tucker from O’Fallon Street and set the cruise to 35mph. After crossing Chouteau Ave. the limit drops from 35 to 30.  After Lafayette Ave, 7/10ths of mile later, the speed goes back to 35mph.

Heading northbound on Tucker at Lafayette is a sign indicating the speed just dropped from 35mph to 30mph. After Chouteau it returns to 35mph
Gravois, which becomes Tucker has a 35mph speed limit.

I get why it’s 30mph in this area — it’s residential. Plus a recreational center is located at Tucker & Park. Other drivers, it seems, don’t realize the speed has dropped. They tailgate me, or change lanes to pass me like I’m going 5mph.

My observation is most drivers don’t adjust their speed in this section of Tucker that’s just over a half mile long.  If I had one of those speed guns I’d collect real data. My guess is most drivers exceed 40mph.  The design of the roadway (lane width, etc) is no different on Tucker or even on Gravois.

I like the idea of 30mph in this section, I’d just like to see it to designed to encourage slower speed. Perhaps just something to let drivers know this 7/10th of a mile is different.  If I felt like doing math I’d figure out how many more seconds this 7/10th of a mile would take at 30mph, 35mph, and 40mph.

The intention is good, but I think the execution needs improvement.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Is A Medical School The Best Use For Pruitt-Igoe Site?

March 15, 2020 Featured, North City, NorthSide Project Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Is A Medical School The Best Use For Pruitt-Igoe Site?
 
Please vote below

Another medical school is coming to the St. Louis region.

Ponce Health Sciences University announced plans Friday to construct an $80 million facility in north St. Louis and launch a doctor of medicine program.

The for-profit university is expected to break ground on the campus by the end of the year on the former site of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project, near a proposed three-bed hospital. The campus could begin teaching students in 2022 if it gains accreditation this summer. (St. Louis Public Radio)

This is the subject of today’s poll.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

Shutting Down To Save Lives

March 13, 2020 Featured, Popular Culture, STL Region Comments Off on Shutting Down To Save Lives
 

The St. Louis region still only has one confirmed case of COVID-19, but to contain it from spreading some big decisions have been made — both nationally & locally. Flights from Europe cancelled for at least 30 days, major sports postponed, Broadway shows shuttered, music tours cancelled. College classes switching to online only.

Enterprise Center was to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.

The NCAA had said the March Madness tournament initially would be played without fans, but yesterday made the decision to cancel completely. Both local St. Patrick’s  Day Parades have been postponed.

Some had been upset about lost revenue by not having spectators at restaurants and booking hotel rooms by the NCAA decision to not have fans, now we won’t have players, coaches, family, etc.

Sometimes the right decision means saying no to short-term profits.  This also impacts workers who need their paychecks to pay rent/mortgage and other bills.

We can look back to St. Louis 102 years ago to see how effective such drastic actions are.

When the influenza epidemic of 1918 infected a quarter of the U.S. population, killing tens of millions of people, seemingly small choices made the difference between life and death.

As the disease was spreading, Wilmer Krusen, Philadelphia’s health commissioner, allowed a huge parade to take place on September 28th; some 200,000 people marched. In the following days and weeks, the bodies piled up in the city’s morgues. By the end of the season, 12,000 residents had died.

In St. Louis, a public health commissioner named Max Starkloff decided to shut the city down. Ignoring the objections of influential businessmen, he closed the city’s schools, bars, cinemas, and sporting events. Thanks to his bold and unpopular actions, the per capita fatality rate in St. Louis was half that of Philadelphia. (In total roughly 1,700 people died from influenza in St Louis.)

In the coming days, thousands of people across the country will face the choice between becoming a Wilmer Krusen or a Max Starkloff.” (The Atlantic)

Philadelphia did have twice the population of St.Louis, but also more than twice the land area. It was a wise decision to shut everything down. In doing so many lives were saved.

It’s impossible to know how many more would’ve died had the city not been shut down temporarily. There will, hopefully, be a point where our lives can return to normal.

Will normal be different than what we knew prior to COVID-19?  Impossible to say at this point. However, it is possible to see businesses learning how to live without expensive conferences & expos.

Over the last 20 years, the conference and convention industry has grown rapidly as the global economy has expanded.

In 2017, about $1 trillion was spent worldwide on business events, including funds to plan and produce the events and related travel, according to an Events Industry Council report. North America alone accounted for $381 billion.

Convention centers and similar facilities rely on these events to survive, often booking major ones years in advance. (LA Times)

Right now we’re looking at an expensive expansion of our downtown convention center. Do we move forward or put it on hold to see what the  convention business will look like a year from now?

Will Coronavirus influence the design of the upcoming MLS stadium? More hand-washing stations?

A lot to think about, especially if you’re at home for days.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Fragmented St. Louis Region’s Coronavirus Preparedness Is Being Tested

March 11, 2020 Featured, STL Region Comments Off on Fragmented St. Louis Region’s Coronavirus Preparedness Is Being Tested
 

I wrote the recent Coronavirus-related Sunday Poll a week ago. At the time the Coronavirus hadn’t come to the St. Louis region. Then Saturday night came word of a case in St. Louis County, so I had to revise the post. So much has happened in just a few days, first the non-scientific results:

Q: Agree or disagree: The St. Louis region is well-prepared to handle the Coronavirus.

  • Strongly agree: 0 [0%]
  • Agree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [4.76%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 6 [28.57%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 1 [4.76%]
  • Disagree: 3 [14.29%]
  • Strongly disagree: 7 [33.33%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 3 [14.29%]

We don’t really know, but we’re about to find out.

Source: Food & Drug Administration

I do take comfort that St. Louis County Executive Sam Page is also a physician.  However, I’m a little concerned instructions to self quarantine are only issued verbally, it’s a honor system. As a person with short-term memory issues I often forget things said to me verbally — I really need written information. Email is easy as a backup to verbal.

That said, it seems like common sense if a member of your household might test positive the entire household needs to quarantine — not go out for coffee or attend a party and dance.

As a cancer patient, I’m also high risk. So don’t expect to see me out and about. Other than grocery shopping and visiting Siteman Cancer Center, I’ll be at home. I’d planned to spend two weeks in Chicago next month, but I’m putting that off indefinitely.

Most of you don’t have the luxury to stay at home. Yes, some of you can work from home but most cannot. Many, like my husband, get zero paid days off work — no paid holidays, no paid vacation days, no paid sick days. Even if you get paid days off you if you’re a bus driver, cashier, nurse, etc you can’t do those jobs from home.

Back to the regional preparedness, this will test their communications.  Here are links to Coronavirus pages at St. Louis County and St. Louis City. Plus the CDC and BJC hospitals.

To me a regional approach would be one website where a resident could put in their zip code so they could find out who to contact. Such a website could be helpful in case of natural disasters, voter information, etc. Include every county that’s part of the St. Louis region on both sides of the Mississippi River.

It’s easy to have low expectations — I just hope we’re wrong.

— Steve Patterson

Vote For The Moderate Candidate: Bernie Sanders

March 9, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Vote For The Moderate Candidate: Bernie Sanders
 

Wait, isn’t Bernie Sanders the left-wing extremist? No, not really.

In the 1940s, Senators Robert Wagner and James Murray and Congressman John Dingell Sr. introduced legislation that would have established a national program for hospital and medical insurance. It was stymied by a coalition of Southern Democrats and conservative Republicans, as was also the case with Truman’s efforts after 1949 to achieve the same result. But it was central to the party’s core ambition for many years after.

Only in the 1960s did Democrats abandon the concept of universal, single-payer health care and champion a narrower program of guaranteed hospital insurance and voluntary medical insurance for the elderly—the program that we now know as Medicare. They didn’t abandon universal coverage because they viewed it as too radical. Rather, they believed it was no longer necessary. After World War II, major employers began extending unprecedented benefits to workers, including annual cost-of-living adjustments to wages, defined benefits pensions and private health insurance. Given this reality, they turned their focus to a narrower subset of the population that, by definition, would not benefit from employer-based health programs: senior citizens. (Politico)

Since 1980 Democrats have been moving to the right, FDR wouldn’t recognize today’s Democratic Party.

Bernie Sanders in Affton four years ago.

The policies Bernie Sanders has advocated for decades are very moderate:

  • Healthcare for everyone. Millions would live longer, others wouldn’t go bankrupt, people wouldn’t need to resort to online fundraising. Our peer countries have universal healthcare, but somehow we think this is extreme.  Now with Coronavirus it’s especially important people not to fear the cost of going to the doctor.  Speaking of cost, we could save money with Medicare for All.  Doing nothing will continue to cost us more and more. Better coverage for less money isn’t radical, it’s common sense.
  • Taxing the 1%. Decades ago the wealthiest paid their share of taxes, but now we’ve got the 99% objecting to them paying more. Some billionaires paid a lower rate than their workers. It’s not radical to think they should pay a higher rate.
  • Act on climate change. Time is running out, today’s kids count on us to make wise decisions. Not doing anything is the radical position.

Elected Democrats that call themselves “moderates” are only slightly less conservative than Republicans. No wonder the other candidate would consider a republican as a running mate.

Missouri votes tomorrow, Illinois a week from tomorrow.

— Steve Patterson

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