This past Monday (March 31, 2008) I attended a public meeting showcasing the proposed designs for streetscape improvements along South Grand between Arsenal and McDonald. Being touted as an “example project” of East-West Gateway’s new “St. Louis Great Streets Initiative”, the project would take significant steps to beautify the area, slow down traffic and make it more pedestrian friendly overall. Of the four projects currently being planned under the Great Streets banner, South Grand is the farthest along. This meeting was intended to bring things from a conceptual stage to an actual planning stage.
At the meeting, public opinion was sought on the three proposals that have been developed by the project planners. All the proposals would feature improved lighting and district landmarks, but they would differ in the following ways:
4-Lane Basic Enhancement
This concept would improve street tree conditions, pavement conditions and lighting. It would improve the pedestrian environment by adding curb “bulb outs“, high-visibility crosswalks, and pedestrian signal enhancements. This concept would be the least invasive and least expensive. The existing roadway and parking configurations would be the same as they are today.
4-Lane Enhancement “Plus”
This concept would do everything that the 4-Lane basic concept would do, plus it would increase the width of the existing sidewalks by moving the existing street trees fro the sidewalk to the parking lane in between car stalls. Side street parking enhancements, including better lighting, sidewalks, and security, would be required to offset the parking lost on Grand as a result.For those reasons this would be the most expensive concept.
3-Lane Basic Enhancement
This concept is identical to the 4-Lane basic concept in the way that it treats the parking and sidewalks. The big difference is that it would re-stripe the existing roadway to be a 3-lane roadway: one through-lane in each direction and a center turn lane, with bicycle lanes on the outside of the travel lanes. Going to 3 lanes would provide better operations for left turning vehicles on Grand, it would reduce the number of lanes for pedestrians to cross, and it would calm traffic more than a 4-lane concept. The trade off for these benefits are that the 3-lane may at times create “bottlenecks” at the ends of the corridor where the lane reductions take place, and may reduce the amount of through-traffic capacity on Grand. The 3-lane would also produce more “friction” for vehicles trying to park along Grand.
I had intended to wait to post this story until I had better pictures of the plans and more detailed information from East-West Gateway, but I still haven’t received it, so please excuse the quality of this information. The images below are pictures I took of each one of the concepts and the landmark proposal. Click on each picture for a better look.
Most people at the meeting seemed quite skeptical of the 3-Lane plan. The uncertainties surrounding that plan would likely lead to it being removed as a choice. The question then becomes what to do with the trees along Grand. There didn’t seem to be any real unanimity at the meeting. The final decision will probably be made when more accurate costs on figured to determine if it is worth moving the trees.
Once I get the digital files from East-West Gateway, I’ll be sure to update this post with better pictures and clearer details. If you would like to view a PDF version of the packet that they passed out at the presentation you can download that here. The file is almost 7MB, so it could take a few minutes. Hopefully we’ll be hearing more about this matter in the coming weeks as the opinions expressed at the meeting a digested. In the meantime, you might want to check out the article the the Suburban Journals put together on this topic.
EDIT – You can now view an original copy of the proposal here.