Monday, December 19, 2005

Traffic-Calming for South Tucker Blvd.

Traffic-Calming for South Tucker Blvd.

Next spring and summer, look for some major construction work on one of the main arteries connecting the Southside with downtown St. Louis: South Tucker Boulevard, from Chouteau Avenue to the I-44/I-55 split.

The construction project, known as "Phase 4D" of the Near Southside infrastructure work that goes along with the redevelopment of the former Darst-Webbe site and environs, will be bid out in February 2006. Work should commence in May and finish by November. It is pretty much the final phase of this massive multi-year infrastructure project which included rebuilding Park with a roundabout at 14th, constructing 13th Street inside the development, and more recently some street rebuilding near Truman Parkway, both in the orphaned corner of Lafayette Square along Dolman, and around the Clinton-Peabody public housing complex.

Tucker is to be reduced from 3 lanes to 2 lanes in each direction. The road will be repaved, right-turn and left-turn lanes will be added at Lafayette, Park, and Chouteau, and on-street parking will be allowed in some sections.

The street lights, sidewalks, and landscaping are to be improved in places where that work hasn't already been done.

Hopefully, reducing the number of lanes here will slow traffic somewhat, and make it less likely that horrible accidents will happen here.

Also, I hope the left-turn lane from NB Tucker to WB Chouteau will be equipped with a left-turn arrow signal! Currently, many MetroBus routes make that turn, but are forced to wait for SB Tucker traffic to pass. Although this is probably not a high-volume turning movement for cars, it certainly is for buses. Hopefully, this will be considered as part of the improvements.

I don't know whether bicycle lanes are included in this project, however.

Nevertheless, this is a good step in reclaiming the street for pedestrians.

It would be great if similar work could be done further north and further south along the ridiculously wide North Florissant/13th/Tucker/Gravois corridor. These streets don't really need to be that wide anymore. But I don't know where the funding would be found at this point. Gravois (MoDOT territory now) was just repaved a year or two ago from the I-44/I-55 split to Grand; and just this past summer from Grand out to somewhere in the county.


Michael R. Allen said...

These overly-wide streets would support a double-tracked streetcar line that could run all the way from Gravois & Hampton to the city limits at West Florissant. That would be a highly useful line, and the streets could accomodate construction without being closed for long periods of time.

In the meantime, the medians are a very good thing for a very inhumane section of street.

Anonymous said...

But Metro won't operate streetcars, where trains share lanes with other traffic. Metro is already unhappy about plans to have in-street medians-- exclusive lanes except at signalized intersections-- along Natural Bridge, North Florissant, 14th and Chouteau.

Gravois was previously eliminated as a potential southside MetroLink line due to how narrow Gravois gets west of Jefferson, and even more so, west of Grand. A semi-exclusive alignment on Gravois would eliminate on-street parking between Jefferson and Grand, and even take out buildings west of Grand.

Now if you accept streetcar operations (different technology than MetroLink), or sharing lanes with traffic, then Gravois works. But if Metro is unhappy about in-street operations in medians, our region's lead transit authority certainly won't be pushing for streetcars.

Michael R. Allen said...

It's true that Metro doesn't like streetcars. But there is growing public support for the idea, and after the Loop trolley opens and it becomes clear that the next MetroLink line is still 30 years off enthusiasm will spread. While it will take awhile to build political support, I think that a streetcar system will be built in St. Louis again. Metro is on the wrong side of history, as it is -- but that is no surprise. I would not be surprised if the streetcars operate under a different transit company, maybe even a private one, if Metro continues to be short-sighted.