Washington University Invests in Skinker Pedestrian Brightway

One hundred and four sidewalk lamps will now light both sides of Skinker Boulevard between Forest Park Parkway and Delmar Boulevard—something that planners hope will increase safety along the corridor that connects Washington University to the Delmar Loop and area neighborhoods.

The pedestrian “brightway” comes as part of a bevy of upgrades initiated by Washington University that includes installing closed-circuit security cameras, “blue light” emergency phones, and two additional overhead street lamps. All 22 of the existing overhead street lamps have been retrofitted for efficiency and brightness improvements as well.

Crews finished work on and lit—for the first time—the sidewalk lamps on the east side of Skinker Boulevard in late January. Sitting on 10-feet poles, identical lamps spaced at 35-feet intervals on the street’s west side have been lit since New Year’s Eve. Although work continues on the cameras and emergency phones, completion of the brightway takes the project into its final phase.

Alderwoman Lyda Krewson, whose 28th Ward encompasses the area, and Cheryl Adelstein, Director of Community Relations for Washington University, both report receiving positive feedback about the additional lighting from neighborhood residents. More telling, Adelstein said, was that she has yet to receive any complaints.

The university’s collaboration with residents in the nearby Parkview Gardens and Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhoods may be contributing to the one-sided response. University officials, for example, presented initial plans to the Security Committee of the Skinker-DeBaliviere Community Council in May 2014.

“It’s an improvement for the neighborhood for sure,” said Liz Pund, the Executive Director of the Skinker-DeBaliviere Community Council. “It definitely makes for a more welcoming, walkable sidewalk.”

The project grew out of safety concerns over what Adelstein described as an unusually dark route that failed to meet lighting standards set forth by the Illuminating Engineering Society. The “scale of students and general pedestrians that move” along Skinker Boulevard made the upgrades a priority for the university, Adelstein explained.

Tim Smith, the lead barista at Kayak’s Coffee on Skinker Boulevard, said that he has noticed the new lighting while riding his bike and hopes the added brightness will help keep the area safe.

From an aesthetic standpoint, Smith agreed with Pund. “It looks real nice,” he said.

The project also offers the promise of better connecting the Delmar Loop business district with MetroLink. Just four tenths of a mile from Delmar Boulevard, the Skinker MetroLink Station sits at the south end of the brightway. Trekking from there to Loop businesses west of Skinker Boulevard runs approximately the same distance as from the Delmar Loop MetroLink Station.

Going forward, Washington University will maintain the sidewalk lamps while the City of St. Louis will maintain the street lamps and pay for all lamps’ electricity. Efficiencies gained from transitioning the street lamps from high-pressure sodium to LED will keep electricity consumption flat, even with the hundred-plus additional fixtures, Adelstein said.

Although no plans for additional brightways exist at this time, Adelstein noted that the upgrades on Skinker Boulevard complement similar lighting improvements on Enright Avenue behind the university’s mixed-use Lofts development in the Parkview Gardens Neighborhood.

“The university likes the idea of brightways,” she said.