Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Overpasses To Be Fixed

Overpasses To Be Fixed

Last week, Channel 5 posted a copy of the MoDOT Request for Bids for the emergency retrofitting of numerous overpasses in the St. Louis area after the partial collapse of the sidewalk on the north side of the Delor Street bridge over I-55.

But to get to the juicy part -- the actual list of bridges -- you have to scroll to page 33 and 34 of the PDF document.

So here's the list in text format by street carried, re-sorted by route number, and sorted by distance away from downtown St. Louis.

Interstate 44

Nebraska Ave.
Grand Blvd. (two structures -- one northbound, one southbound)
Edwards St.
Macklind Ave.
Shrewsbury Ave.
Murdoch Ave.
Rock Hill Rd.
Sappington Rd.

Interstate 55

Gravois Ave./S. Tucker Blvd. (east of the I-44 split)
Gravois Ave./Russell Blvd. (south of the I-44 split)
Sidney St.
Pestalozzi St.
Arsenal St. (two structures -- one eastbound, one westbound)
Utah St.
Delor St. (well, yeah)
Holly Hills Ave. (already also has temporary solution)
Loughborough Ave. (two structures -- one eastbound, one westbound)
Weber Rd.
Main St., Festus MO

Interstate 64 (U.S. 40)
As it happens, most of these structures are scheduled for demolition and replacement within the next five years anyway!

Boyle Ave.
Kingshighway Blvd. (two structures -- one northbound, one southbound)
Hampton Ave./Concourse Dr. (two structures -- one northbound, one southbound)
Tamm Ave.
Oakland Ave.
Claytonia Terr. (underpass)
Laclede Station Rd. (underpass)

Interstate 70
Most of the older overpasses in North St. Louis City have already been replaced, but closer to downtown and in North County you'll still find the early 1960s bridges.

Walnut St.
Market St.
Chestnut St.
Pine St.
N. 9th St./Howard St.
St. Louis Ave.
Fee Fee Rd.
St. Charles Rock Rd. (two structures -- one eastbound, one westbound)

Interstate 270
I'm surprised there are still older structures on 270, but a couple remain.

Old Halls Ferry Rd. (North County)
Dougherty Ferry Rd. (West County)


Market St. over I-64 westbound on ramp from Pine St. (22nd St. Parkway area)
Kingshighway Blvd. over Clayton Ave. in Forest Park (two structures -- one northbound, one southbound)
Olive Blvd. (MO 340) over River des Peres in University City

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

After The Election...

After The Election...

Needless to say, I'm still shocked that Jim Shrewsbury did not win re-election.

Also a little surprising, although not as significant in my day-to-day life, were the unseating of O.L. Shelton in ward 4 by Sam Moore, and the substantial margin by which Kacie Starr Triplett won in ward 6, Lewis Reed's current seat.

But I was happy to see Craig Schmid win another term in my ward 20. Kelly spent much of the day yesterday, and I a few hours after work, helping him out in front of our polling place. Then we headed over to the Bakers' Union hall for the 20th Ward Democrats' party. It was a pretty small, loyal cadre inside, but we had a good time.

I just hope Galen and his backers appreciate that much of Craig's approach is still needed in our neighborhoods. Arguably, wards 9 and 20 are among the most challenging parts of the Southside, given our reputation and reality as a center of gang, drug, and prostitution activity. It may be a bit quieter than it was 5 years ago, but that's mostly due to the persistence and consistent attention of Craig and other community leaders.

I agree that many important issues in this city get ignored because of the political process. And while I don't agree with Craig 100% of the time on every issue, he's a detail-oriented public servant, which is really what is necessary in most aldermanic slots. Yet he also sees the big picture, and is willing to deal with issues in neighboring wards that some officials would ignore.

The big question in the back of my mind is now:

Who will Lewis Reed select for the transitional school board, assuming DESE goes forward with the overlay district takeover plan within the next three-to-six months? Jim Shrewsbury repeatedly said he wanted to pick someone who knew about education, but who had no connection to or axe to grind against SLPS. I really don't recall Reed's public statements about that.

Anyway, I predict Reed and Mayor Slay will team up on a lot of issues -- on E&A, on the Board of Aldermen, and in selecting the majority (2 of 3) of the transitional school board members. Where this leaves Comptroller Darlene Green, I'm not really sure.

Based on the data posted today by the Arch City Chronicle, we can see who won which wards:

Shrewsbury won: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 23, 24, and 25. (13 wards)

Reed won: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 26, 27, and 28. (15 wards)

Only time will tell just exactly what this means.

Monday, March 05, 2007

They Go in Threes

They Go in Threes

In recent weeks, St. Louis has lost three titans of local Democratic politics. As we prepare for a heated primary battle tomorrow, let us recall all three of their careers and contributions to building a better community and providing for the future we are living today.

Harriett Woods passed away Thursday, 2/8/07 at the age of 79. She was the first woman elected to a statewide office in Missouri, serving as Lieutenant Governor from 1984 to 1989. She started her political career as a City Council member in University City (where she lived much of her adult life) in 1967. She also served in the State Senate, from 1976 to 1984, and made several attempts at a U.S. Senate seat. She became a national figure in later years, heading the National Women's Political Caucus and President Clinton's Coalition for Women's Appointments. She also taught classes in the political science department at UMSL, where she founded the former Institute for Policy Leadership in 1989.

John Bass passed away Sunday, 2/25/07 at the age of 80. He served as the first African-American comptroller of the City of St. Louis (elected in 1973), and later as a State Senator from North St. Louis (1981 to 1991). Also during his career he served as principal of Beaumont High, City Department of Welfare director under Mayor Cervantes, 20th Ward alderman, deputy director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, and as a staff director of a Congressional subcommittee, owing to his close relationship with Congressman Bill Clay.

Tom Eagleton passed away Sunday, 3/4/07 at the age of 77. He was, of course, a U.S. Senator from Missouri from 1969 to 1987. He was also the youngest person ever elected Circuit Attorney in the City of St. Louis (at the age of 27, in 1956), and youngest ever Missouri Attorney General (elected in 1960, at the age of 31). He also served as Missouri Lieutenant Governor, before being elected to the U.S. Senate. He taught political science classes at Washington University after his retirement from the Senate; and was frequently part of a bipartisan team advocating for Missouri interests along with Republican Senator Jack Danforth. While Eagleton came from a privileged background, he was interested in many progressive causes, most recently as a prominent lay Catholic advocate of stem-cell research.

Harriett Woods, John Bass, and Tom Eagleton were roughly contemporaries, and all three were trailblazers and leaders in their own ways. St. Louis has lost quite a bit of its institutional and collective memory with the passing of these three leaders.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The #58 MetroBus: Why MetroLink Would Not Work on I-64/US 40

The #58 MetroBus: Why MetroLink Would Not Work on I-64/US 40

Very early Wednesday morning, I rode the #58 Chesterfield-Ellisville to that monstrocity of retail in the Gumbo Flats (under water only 14 years ago) known as Chesterfield Commons. It's truly fascinating (and surreal) just how many different stores, many of whom are in direct competition with one another, are located in this same super-sized strip mall.

Riding the #58 to Chesterfield is odd, because the route runs mostly along North Outer Forty (going west), and going east to head home, along South Outer Forty west of Mason.

It's actually pretty cool how fast the #58, whether on that Chesterfield branch or on the branch via Manchester Road to Wildwood, makes it from Brentwood I-64 MetroLink station, express via I-64 to the Ballas Road MetroBus Center. Unfortunately, that speedy service cannot last much longer, once that segment of I-64 goes under the knife.

But west of there, the Chesterfield-bound buses stop in some very inconvenient places, and in many locations it would be quite difficult to find a bus stop heading back east for the return trip.

The westbound route from the MetroBus Center is something like:

*Left onto off-ramp from I-64 WB to Ballas;
*Right on Ballas;
*Left on Conway;
*Right into St. John's Mercy;
*Stop at St. John's Mercy, a temporary-looking bus stop but at least it's at the front door;
*Looping back out of St. John's, to right on Conway;
*Pass under I-270 on Conway, left on North Outer Forty;
*Continue west on North Outer Forty all the way to Maryville University Drive;
*At Maryville University Drive, enters I-64;
*Exits I-64 WB at Timberlake Manor Parkway, to re-enter North Outer Forty;
*Continue west on North Outer Forty to Chesterfield Parkway North;
*Right on Chesterfield Parkway North, counterclockwise half-loop;
*Right on Chesterfield Airport Road (sometimes goes to Chesterfield Mall though);
*Past the Chesterfield Mobile Home Park (seriously!), then right on Baxter Road;
*Left to re-enter Chesterfield Airport Road; and I disembarked near Boone's Crossing.

The entering and re-entering I-64 on this route makes it hard to know just where to catch the bus, and may contribute to its limited ridership on the runs I rode.

As I said, the routing is a bit different headed back east:

*East on Chesterfield Airport Road, entering I-64 via the on-ramp just east of Baxter Road (skipping the trailer park);
*Exit I-64 at Chesterfield Parkway West/Chesterfield Airport Road exit;
*Left on Chesterfield Airport Road, right on Chesterfield Parkway South;
*To Chesterfield Mall, west side, and back out to Chesterfield Parkway South, into Chesterfield Parkway North (honestly, I don't know which section is North, West, South, or East, they seem to be signed differently depending where you come from);
*Clockwise around Chesterfield Parkway North;
*Left onto South Outer Forty, very few bus stops in this stretch;
*Right on Woods Mill Road;
*Woods Mill curves around, continue east via South Outer Forty;
*Left on Mason Road;
*Right on North Outer Forty, Right on Conway, loop via St. John's, Left back onto Conway, Right on Ballas, Left onto I-64 WB onramp, to Transit Center.

Alongside I-64 from Mason to Chesterfield Parkway (East) is the main problematic segment. Because of the one-way configuration of the frontage roads, and the awkwardness around the MO 141 interchange, it's hard to determine where the closest bus stop might be located on the return trip, which may contribute to the low ridership in this segment.

The only overpasses crossing I-64 and connecting the frontage roads between those endpoints are at Timberlake Manor Parkway, Woods Mill Road, and Maryville Centre Drive. While that's probably adequate for local car traffic to access the numerous office parks and institutions along this high-traffic corridor, it's certainly not pedestrian-friendly nor transit-friendly.

So if, for example, you work at Maryville University, there's a westbound bus stop at the "front door" (kinda), at the corner of North Outer Forty (at that point, really a high-speed on/off ramp) and Maryville University Drive. But getting back east could be challenging. I suppose you'd need to walk east alongside North Outer Forty (a daunting prospect indeed), then cross over I-64 on the Maryville Centre Drive overpass, and then find a bus stop nearby on South Outer Forty. Similarly, if you work at Delmar Gardens Chesterfield (maybe not a good example because they also have special, direct service at selected times on the #58), you have a westbound stop right at the door; but to go back east you'd probably need to backtrack about 4/10ths mile to the nearest eastbound bus stop, on Chesterfield Parkway North at Conway.

The low-density development pattern, confusing frontage road configurations, and lack of frequent crossovers for pedestrian access, would make I-64 west of I-270 almost impossible to reconfigure in a way that would make light-rail transit viable on that corridor. Sure, you could install elevated stations above the I-64 median, with walkways to either side. But even then, where would those walkway lead?

But you don't have to take my word for it -- try getting to the MoDOT offices at 1590 Woodlake via this bus route!