This morning I happened to be walking along the Cross County corridor in Maplewood, Brentwood, and Richmond Heights. I made a few observations of interest:
It's a strange location, though. After all, everything around there is typical auto-oriented suburban development. There's a fairly old building just south of the site - some kind of pencil company? - but now that "Maplewood Commons Shopping Center" is across super-wide South Hanley, there are no houses nearby.
Further, there is no MetroLink station being built there! The tracks in this section are elevated, in such a way it would be pretty expensive to add a new station. I hope they don't call it Hanley Station though; there's already a North Hanley Station on the original alignment, after all. Apparently, MLP and Brentwood (which authorized a TIF for this project) hope a station can be built after the development opens. It certainly won't be now.
To me, this is a silly location for a station. It's not really that far south from the Brentwood I-64 station; you could almost make a walkway to it instead. It would make way more sense to have a [South] Hanley MetroLink station somewhere near the corner of Hanley Rd and Hanley Industrial Ct. There are a lot of retail jobs / shopping places within a very short walk of that location. A stop located atop the intersection could have stairways and elevators leading to both sides of Hanley, avoiding the need for pedestrians to try and cross the ridiculously wide, busy roadway.
I suspect the reasoning for this design is that it allows the walkway to access a public street. The portion of the Dierbergs parking lot that is signed as Hanley Industrial Court is not really a public street. The official street Hanley Industrial Court dead-ends at that funky 90-degree turn next to the MetroLink right-of-way near the Ice Cream Specialties plant/offices.
All in all, the new Cross County route runs through two distinctly different kinds of development patterns, which probably has a significant impact on the design of the stations - or at least it should.
I still think the Clayton station could have a much more friendly design, but at least you could walk to most of the high-rises and the courthouse within a few minutes. The other three new stations will be reasonably easy to access from WashU facilities, and a little less easy to access from surrounding neighborhoods - but I guess that's what the neighbors wanted. Most of them probably will not use it very often, but it certainly won't hurt their property values.
For the most part, the major retail, light industrial, and office park destinations in the vicinity of these stops are very very suburban and auto-oriented. Retro-fitting them for pedestrians is not really happening.
While The Boulevard-St Louis is an impressive development, it still has a huge parking garage attached. More to the point, it is not a Transit-Oriented Development, because it is located across I-170 from the Richmond Heights MetroLink station. (Aerial view)
Unless somebody pays for a major upgrade of the lighting and general attractiveness of the sidewalks along Galleria Parkway under I-170, this will be a major detraction from the appeal and usefulness of this particular MetroLink station. And even once you pass under I-170, you still have to walk across Brentwood Blvd. somehow - no small task, at any time of day.
Likewise, while there will at least be some limited access to the Brentwood I-64 station from the west, that doesn't mean you can easily access the nearby shopping centers. For example, if you want to get to Target in Brentwood Promenade, you'll need to either backtrack north by northwest across the Dierbergs Brentwood Pointe parking lots, to get to Eager Road.; or go the back way, west along another of the tentacles of Hanley Industrial Court. Not a real pleasant strolling experience there.