“There’s word Tuesday night drastic street changes on St. Louis’ historic South Grand Boulevard are about to become permanent. The most heavily criticized changes, dozens of concrete pots marking off new lane reductions from Arsenal south to Humphrey, will go, but the lane reductions are staying.
Grand Boulevard will never be the same.”
This is how Fox2 chooses to frame their story on the South Grand streetscape project. “Drastic street changes,” “heavily criticized changes,”never be the same.” Lazy reporting of a transformative project that has garnered the support of prominent skeptics, area businesses and many residents alike. No mention of effectively slowing traffic, no mention of wider sidewalks, just “lane reductions”. And since when has Fox2 become nostalgic about Grand Boulevard?
Alderperson Jennifer Florida appears later in the story and St. Louis Street Department Director Todd Waelterman not at all. Both were initially very skeptical of the project, but are now very supportive. The evolution of their thinking would be a good story. The Complete Streets movement, and the resolution submitted to the Missouri House and co-sponsored by more than 20 members representing both the most urban and more rural districts in the state would be a good story. Showing how slowing traffic adds to the atmosphere of Washington Avenue, Manchester in Maplewood, the Delmar Loop and other places would be a good story. Having the news reporter attempt to cross Gravois near Grand while pushing a stroller with a diaper bag on his shoulder and carrying a bag of groceries would be a good story. You get the idea.
The Fox2 report is an example of “covering” one of the significant, progressive, humane and meaningful infrastructure developments in St. Louis and missing all of that while focusing on the ugly barriers that look like “chunks of sewer pipes.” They are chunks of sewer pipes. The first quote in the story is a person stating that driving on South Grand is like driving on Lindbergh in St. Louis County and “If they did something like this to Lindbergh Boulevard, people would have a fit.” Sure, and I’d compare driving on much of Lindbergh to driving on I-270 and you just know that people “would have a fit” if we put a few stop lights on I-270.
Anyway, great changes are coming to South Grand. The final sentences of the story get close to finding the issue at hand, “Safety has to come first,” (Alderperson Jennifer Florida) said. “She said a boulevard that saw roughly 97 accidents-a-year in prior years, had fewer than half that now.” There’s no official count on how many fewer pedestrians have had near-death experiences. A big thank you is in order for Jennifer and Todd for supporting a better environment for everyone using the streets and sidewalks in St. Louis.