St. Louis Learns: Reduced Traffic Lanes, Improved Pedestrian Environment Likely For South Grand

{a view of an enhanced South Grand Avenue}

You can put this in the great, but crazy column. First the “great”: it appears that the section of South Grand Avenue adjacent to the Tower Grove South neighborhood will see a drastically more pedestrian friendly streetscape in the near future. Traffic lanes will be reduced from four to two with a left turn lane. Sidewalks will be widened and bump-outs will shorten pedestrian crossings at intersections.

Now the “crazy”: St. Louis City Streets Director Todd Waelterman spoke briefly to St. Louis Public Radio reporter Adam Allington regarding the ongoing traffic test on South Grand, stating that he’s shocked that it’s worked so well. “You know, I didn’t really think that it was going to work; I’ll be the first to tell you. I thought it was a horrible thing and I kind of pushed for a test. But I’m amazed at how well it’s turning out,” Waelterman said.

Given Waelterman’s approval, it appears that plans for a three-lane South Grand will move forward. That test was designed to fail given the following criteria: “The goals of the South Grand Great Streets project are to improve pedestrian safety while maintaining traffic flow… If the 30-day test shows that the lane reduction will not handle the traffic volumes adequately, the project will keep the existing four-lane configuration…”

It not only speaks volumes about the reconfigured streetscape that the test has been deemed incredibly successful, but also about the apparent lack of creativity, and possibly knowledge, at the St. Louis City Streets Department. Perhaps there is something unique about this stretch of South Grand Avenue that I am not aware of. But this project isn’t unique or forward-thinking, it’s a pretty standard treatment to enhance the pedestrian environment, while still accommodating vehicle traffic.

In the end we’ll give a huge HURRAH! to St. Louis and all those involved with this project. The final public open house will be held in two sessions on Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at the Center for Divine Love, 3617 Wyoming, from 11am-1pm and 7pm-9pm. The sessions will be identical. Outcomes from the first two open houses will be reviewed. Almost $2.7 million for design and construction have been secured through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) by East- West Gateway Council of Governments.

{a view of the pedestrian realm of an enhanced South Grand Avenue}

{a view of the South Grand streetscape experiment}

South Grand Great Streets Open House Presentation

GSTS South Grand Survey Results Graphics


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