Grand Bridge/Viaduct Not Looking So Good After Only Eight Years

 

 The ribbon for the $20-$30 million Grand bridge/viaduct was cut on August 25, 2012. It looked great that day. Now, eight years later it is not looking so fresh. On Monday (9/14/2020) I crossed both sides, end to end. Ribbon cuttings are appealing to politicians, especially those running for additional …

St. Louis County Moved Mandatory Beg Button After I Complained About Not Being Able To Reach It

 

 Buttons used to activate pedestrian signals are derisively called “beg buttons.” These buttons have long been decried and criticized by advocates for walking, anyway. The buttons’ purpose is less to keep people safe than to reinforce the primacy of cars on the street by forcing people who want to cross …

30 Years in St. Louis

 

 It was three decades ago that I officially moved to St. Louis, from Oklahoma City. I’d planned to move to Washington DC, but instantly fell in love with St. Louis on the way. The building stock and street grid called for me to stay. Many buildings needed renovation but even …

Literature Review: Women’s Suffrage in St. Louis

 

 It was 100 years ago today that the 19th amendment to the constitution was certified, just in time for millions of women to cast their first votes in the 1920 presidential election. By the time the 19th amendment became effective women in some states had been voting for decades, but …

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Broadway and 4th Street Need To Become Two-Way Again

August 24, 2020 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design, Transportation Comments Off on Broadway and 4th Street Need To Become Two-Way Again
 

Last week, in response to a death as a result of late night racing downtown, St. Louis put up temporary barriers in various places, including blocking all traffic across the Eads Bridge.

In addition to the bridge, the city also closed a section of Washington Avenue from Tucker Boulevard to 14th Street with barricades this week. Barriers also narrow traffic in stretches of 4th Street, Broadway and Market Street.
 
“These are temporary changes,” Krewson said Friday. “This isn’t something that we expect to be there forever.”

Krewson said downtown streets are built to hold a much larger volume of traffic than the city sees in an average day, and with fewer people working downtown because of COVID-19, the streets are even less crowded. (Post-Dispatch)

The last paragraph, quoted above, is an admission our streets are too wide. Previously when anyone argued the 4th Street/Broadway couplet (one-way in opposite directions) should be returned to two-way traffic the claim was always they needed to remain one-way due to traffic volume.

Southbound cars on Broadway at the Cole Street light. Three very wide lanes.
When the light turns green Broadway widens to five total lanes. The two outside lanes are no-parking, except for rare times when tickets are being sold at the Dome.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic the volume on 4th/Broadway couldn’t justify the one-way couplet. It’s past time for the decades-long experiment on our streets to end. The sole purpose of originally converting these streets to one-way decades ago was to quickly move cars into downtown offices in the morning, and then vacate them in the afternoon — just before the sidewalks were rolled up each night. Part of the engineer’s disastrous effort also included banning on-street parking — that slows down the flow of vehicles. This is exactly the opposite of how you build a user-friendly downtown.

Now, approaching Convention Plaza (Delmar), the vehicles that raced from the light form a single-file line.

Looking back North from Convention Plaza (Delmar)

Walk Broadway from Cole Street to I-64 and see how it feels being next to one-way traffic for over a mile. You’ll see in places the street has 5 very wide lanes that encourage high speeds. Even with the barricades at points, drivers coming off I-44 onto southbound Broadway at Cole street they reach high speeds to get into single file formation at Convention Plaza (aka Delmar).

The prior week a vehicle knocked over a bollard on the Southwest corner of Broadway & Washington Ave.
And then crashed through this temporary wall.

Changing 4th/Broadway back to two-way traffic is only part of the needed solution. Traffic signals must be timed so that a person taking off from a red light doesn’t encounter another red light just a block or two down the street. Our signal timing often encourages people to speed to make it through the next two or three lights. Lane width also matters — the wider the lanes the faster the traffic.

This isn’t the St. Louis of 1950, we need to reverse decisions made by people born in the late 19th century.

— Steve Patterson

Grammar Checking Graffiti on Eads Bridge

August 20, 2020 Featured, Popular Culture Comments Off on Grammar Checking Graffiti on Eads Bridge
 

The last four months I’ve gone out on the Eads Bridge numerous times, thanks to the accessibility of the Missouri end of the pedestrian walkway finally getting fixed. I’ve also crossed the Mississippi River a couple of times to visit the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park, with its geyser & lookout tower.

Looking West toward downtown St. Louis

I tend to ignore graffiti on my trips on the bridge, too much else I’d rather focus on. But one day a grouping of graffiti caught my eye on a lookout point as I was photographing the Arch & river.

This is pretty typical of graffiti you’ can find on the railing.

But above this was something offensive, for a couple of reasons.

Really?

I’ve been blogging for nearly 16 years now, regular readers are aware I routinely make grammatical errors. I acknowledge I make mistakes. That said, I know the apostrophe is used to indicate  possession, a contraction, and in some cases plurality. Obviously this person, perhaps 29-year-old Joe Joe, doesn’t understand the difference. Grammerly has a good explanation here, TED has a good video here.

I couldn’t let this mistake continue, so I brought a big black marker on my next two visits.

The unnecessary apostrophe is now gone!
Now this graffiti is only offensive for one reason. Note, the water level has been dropping.

If you’re going to graffiti something at least make sure you use the apostrophe correctly.

Again, I’m fully aware there are likely examples in my writing over the last 15+ years where I’ve used the apostrophe incorrectly. My doing so doesn’t interfere with your photography.

— Steve Patterson

New Book — ‘Parks and Recreation System Planning: A New Approach for Creating Sustainable, Resilient Communities’ by David Barth

August 19, 2020 Books, Featured, Parks Comments Off on New Book — ‘Parks and Recreation System Planning: A New Approach for Creating Sustainable, Resilient Communities’ by David Barth
 

Times have changed considerably in the nearly 75 years since the city released the 1947 Comprehensive Plan, with a section on Public Recreation Facilities. Has our approach kept up with needs of the city, region? A new book is looking to push these forward.

Parks and recreation systems have evolved in remarkable ways over the past two decades. No longer just playgrounds and ballfields, parks and open spaces have become recognized as essential green infrastructure with the potential to contribute to community resiliency and sustainability. To capitalize on this potential, the parks and recreation system planning process must evolve as well. In Parks and Recreation System Planning, David Barth provides a new, step-by-step approach to creating parks systems that generate greater economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Barth first advocates that parks and recreation systems should no longer be regarded as isolated facilities, but as elements of an integrated public realm. Each space should be designed to generate multiple community benefits. Next, he presents a new approach for parks and recreation planning that is integrated into community-wide issues. Chapters outline each step—evaluating existing systems, implementing a carefully crafted plan, and more—necessary for creating a successful, adaptable system. Throughout the book, he describes initiatives that are creating more resilient, sustainable, and engaging parks and recreation facilities, drawing from his experience consulting in more than 100 communities across the U.S.

Parks and Recreation System Planning meets the critical need to provide an up-to-date, comprehensive approach for planning parks and recreation systems across the country. This is essential reading for every parks and recreation professional, design professional, and public official who wants their community to thrive. (Island Press)

This book is for design professionals, bureaucrats , elected officials, and community leaders involved in parks and recreation systems. The contents shows the level of detail:

Introduction: A Framework for Community Sustainability and Resiliency

Part I: Generating Multiple Benefits
Chapter 1. Parks and the Public Realm
Chapter 2. Multiple Dimensions of Parks and Recreation Systems
Chapter 3. High-Performance Public Spaces

Part II: Planning a Comprehensive Approach
Chapter 4. A New Approach to Parks and Recreation System Planning
Chapter 5. Initiating and Planning the PRSMP Process
Chapter 6. The Preliminary Implementation Framework

Part III: Executing the New Approach
Chapter 7. Existing Conditions Analysis
Chapter 8. The Needs Assessment
Chapter 9. Level-of-Service Alternatives
Chapter 10. Developing a Long-Range Vision
Chapter 11. Implementation Strategy

Conclusion: The Power of Parks and Recreation System Planning

You can read a preview at Google Books here, it can be ordered directly from Island Press, locally independent bookstore Left Bank, or that online store. Note: I don’t make anything from these links, just trying to be helpful.

— Steve Patterson

Soccer Stadium, Team Name, and COVID-19

August 15, 2020 Featured, MLS Stadium Comments Off on Soccer Stadium, Team Name, and COVID-19
 

By the time the newly-named St. Louis CITY SC hit the pitch in their Downtown West stadium, now under construction, the bulk of the COVID-19 pandemic should be over…hopefully. Originally they were to join Major League Soccer in 2022, but the current pandemic delayed the MLS expansion schedule a year.

The new MLS stadium is being built North of Market Street, West of 20th Street — exactly where I suggested in February 2016.
The Market Street bridge over the old 22nd Street Interchange is getting filled in.

This delay will greatly benefit the St. Louis CITY SC. Construction on the stadium was just beginning as Coronavirus began spreading in the U.S.  The year delay gives more time to compete the facility and the adjacent training grounds and club offices. The delay also gives them time to make design changes to help in case of future pandemics.

The most obvious would be hand washing stations in public & private areas. The owners & architects are likely discussing other possible design changes:

  • Larger public & private restrooms. Or at least have more dividers.
  • Larger locker rooms, or again more separation.
  • Larger back spaces, like kitchens & staff areas.
  • How to handle lines to enter, for concessions.
  • Potential for high-tech equipment to check temperature of those entering the stadium, locker rooms, offices, etc.
  • How to make the stadium look good on television if a game is played without fans.
  • Materials that resist germs, hold up well to deep cleaning.
  • Equipment to automate the sanitizing of spaces, especially locker rooms.
  • Evaluate the design of HVAC equipment to determine if it meets the newest guidelines for removing contagious air droplets, bringing in fresh air.

There are probably many more design considerations than the above.

The St. Louis CITY SC crest.

Then there’s the name of the team, announced two days ago: St. Louis CITY SC.

We are East of the River and West of I-270. We are Old North and South County. St. Charles and St. Ann. Belleville and Oakville. We are the heart of a vibrant midtown and the soul of dozens of historic downtowns.

Our club represents every street, neighborhood and community in the region, standing up for one another. We are the collective spirit of generations old and young, doers and makers, always looking forward – together.

We are America’s First Soccer Capital and we tenaciously embrace our future. This is our club. This is our home. This is our CITY. (St. Louis CITY SC)

Part of me likes the idea that they’re trying to accomplish — getting us to view the region as outsiders do — a city called St. Louis. Outsiders don’t see or care that St. Louis County is carved up into 90 municipalities, or that the City of St. Louis physical boundaries were frozen in place nearly a century and a half ago. .

Carolyn Kindle Betz, who heads the local ownership group MLS4TheLou, has announced the name and logo for the new Major League Soccer team in St. Louis.

The team is named “Saint Louis City SC” and the color “city red” which borders on the color pink is featured in their logo.

Betz says that the team’s name is a way to bring the region together. The “City” aspect of the name is used by many other soccer clubs internationally. (Fox2)

Betz is right, I was able to find a lot of football clubs with ‘city’ in the name, Manchester City FC is the most known example. It seems not all football…uh…soccer fans like ‘city’ in the name.

Football is full of boring team names like ‘United’, ‘Rovers’ and ‘City’. Look in the right places, however, and you’ll find some really, really good ones. (Planet Football)

It’s interesting how U.S. teams use F.C. (football club) or S.C. (soccer club).  The MLS league will have thirty teams once expansion is complete. Thirteen use ‘FC’ in their names, including the three other expansion teams. With St. Louis CITY SC, the will have four ‘SC’ teams. The remaining thirteen do not use either ‘FC’ or ‘SC’ in their team names.

The colors, crest, etc are all very nice.

— Steve Patterson

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

August 6, 2020 Accessibility, Featured, North City, Walkability Comments Off on 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.

The East side of the new pedestrian bridge, along Northbound 10th Street, has a switchback ramp.

Before getting into the new bridge we should look at what it replaced. Interstate 70 was built decades before the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, so the old pedestrian bridge had stairs on each side.

This 2010 photo is from the West side along 11th Street. The stairs on each end went  down in opposite directions.

Stairs make such a bridge impossible for those of us who use wheelchairs, but also difficult for people who walk using a cane or walker. They’re also a challenge to a parent pushing a stroller, cyclists, etc.

In April 2019 I snapped this image of construction on the new bridge as I was driving by. Yes, I drive too!

Yesterday’s weather was so nice I decided to check out the completed bridge. It was 1.2 miles just getting there from our apartment near 7th & Cass Ave. I did encounter missing curb ramps in a few places — often missing sidewalks. But I made it.

The access point on the East side of I-70 is at North Market Street. There is no painted crosswalk, no signs warning drivers to yield to pedestrians. No curb bulbs to narrow the crossing distance. Nothing. 10th Street traffic is one-way northbound — and it is fast.
Once safely across 10th Street you see trash has accumulated. The city has equipment to clean streets but tight spots like this don’t get cleaned.
From the base looking up the ramp to the landing. I use a power chair which had no problem with the incline. Being ADA-compliant means the maximum level should be acceptable to person using a manual wheelchair. Every so often there are level spots to give someone s rest.
From the landing, looking back down.
Looking South from the landing
From the very top looking back at the landing
Looking East at North Market Street from the top.
Looking West across the level top of the bridge.
Looking North at Northbound I-70.
Looking South at Northbound I-70. The switchback ramp can be seen on the left.
Looking South at Southbound I-70. The straight ramp on the West side (11th Street) can be seen on the right.
From the West end of the bridge you get an excellent view of Jackson Place Park. This was the center of three circles in the original plan of the separate Village of North St. Louis.
Looking South down the straight ramp on the West side (11th Street).
Looking back up from the bottom.
At the bottom you look across 11th Street at Monroe Street. A new curb ramp was built across the street. Like the other side, 11th is one-way and there is no crosswalk markings, signs, etc.
Back up toward Jackson Place Park you can get an overview of the West side.

It is nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. Highways divided many neighborhoods, many previously connected streets permanently severed. I have no idea how much this cost, but it was worth every penny. The highway is still an at-grade divider at this point, but the bridge makes it possible for everyone to safely to cross over it.

Once the current pandemic is over I’ll take the bus to other new pedestrian highway bridges so I can compare.  Yesterday I explored in Old North, got takeout from Crown Candy, and returned home 3.5 hours after leaving. Roundtrip was about 3 miles.

— Steve Patterson

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