Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Musings on "The New I-64" Project

Musings on "The New I-64" Project

The impending reconstruction of U.S. Highway 40/Interstate 64 from Tower Grove to Spoede will have a dramatic impact on that "spine" of the St. Louis region.

Of course, those of us who live and work in the city will feel the impacts only secondarily, since there are tons of alternative routes within the city limits. Even if you live in the Central West End, you can take Forest Park Parkway/Market, or Lindell/Olive, or Delmar/Washington (via one block on Vandeventer).

Still, there is justifiable concern that some West County residents may not come into downtown as much as they might otherwise, thereby reducing our tax revenues. If they telecommute, they probably still would be counted as employed in the city, so earnings taxes wouldn't be impacted. More impact will be felt on sales tax revenues from restaurants and retailers, as well as gross receipts taxes on restaurants and parking facilities.

And it will be a little harder for us to get to the Galleria and other stores in that area, especially since the ramps on the south side of Galleria Parkway at I-170 will be closed permanently. I've always thought that was a better route to get to the mall from the east, rather than messing with traffic signals on Brentwood.

I also wonder how this will impact transit service. Everybody says "take MetroLink"... but if you have to battle bumper-to-bumper traffic in order to get to the MetroLink stop off Eager Road, how much does that really help in the short-term? After all -- unless you can walk to a MetroLink station -- you still have to travel by road, either on a MetroBus or in a private vehicle. Another issue is with crossing points like Bellevue Avenue, which will be closed for a while, requiring a reroute of the #16 City Limits bus.

I still don't understand why the upscale municipalities of Ladue, Creve Coeur, Frontenac, and Town & Country have so much control over Ladue Road and Clayton Road. Since they have repeatedly blocked attempts at widening those roads, taken them from State control, and they can afford to maintain them in the two-lane configuration they prefer;
there is controversy now that St. Louis County is trying to take those roads over temporarily and redesign them slightly, to make traffic flow better without widening them (imagine that!).

The St. Louis County arterial road network (PDF) is vast, so you might think they wouldn't want to mess with this temporary takeover. They already control Clayton Road from the St. Louis city limits to just west of the Galleria -- but even there, a proposed right-turn-only setup for the Walgreens at Big Bend has stirred controversy.

Clayton Road has several different owners along its route. Of course, that first block or two is in the city, so it's the Street Department. From the city limits to Lay Road, it's a county arterial -- with a caveat, as noted by St. Louis County: "(excluding the north half of Clayton Road between Lay Road and Louwen Drive, which is maintained by the City of Ladue)."

That reminds me of Weber Road from Lemay Ferry Road (aka Alabama Ave) to about Union Road. Weber Road is the boundary between St. Louis city and county, so it used to have signs (maybe still does) indicating "This Half of Road Maintained By St. Louis County." So, literally, the pavement was at times two different colors/ages, depending which side of the road you were on. Sometimes one side was snowplowed, the other was not.

Street naming and street ownership in this region is just so darn parochial, it's a wonder anything ever gets built.

Anyway, the northern half of Clayton Road from Louwen to Lay, and then all of it from Lay to Lindbergh, is owned by the City of Ladue. From Lindbergh to about Bopp Road, it's Frontenac. Then from Bopp to MO 141, it's Town & Country. From 141 to Clarkson (MO 340), it's State Secondary Route HH. Then from Clarkson to Eatherton (MO 109), it's a County arterial again!

At least I think so. At least one map I've seen, indicates Route HH extends from Ballas Road (aka Route JJ) to Clarkson. In that case, only the segment from Bopp to Ballas would be owned by T&C.

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