Greater Gravois Initiative Produces Vision for A Better Gravois, Awaits MoDOT Plan

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Gravois Avenue closures proposed - St. Louis, MO

This year something amazing happened in a corner of St. Louis City bisected by a state-managed arterial stroad. Residents spoke up about a plan to close segments of 16 city streets. But they didn’t just rant on social media, they organized, planned, and produced an alternative plan incorporating systematic public input.

Organized as the Greater Gravois Initiative, the group focused on the idea that Gravois Avenue is more than Missouri State Route 30 and a way to move traffic through their neighborhoods. The path is also a place, too often an uninviting place for any use other than driving.

A MoDOT plan to remake Gravois focused on removing perceived impediments to the free flow of traffic. This is typically labeled as an “improvement” without anyone pausing to ask “for whom”? The plan sought to close segments of 16 city streets to reduce the number of streets converging on intersections. Closing certain street segments would have decreased the number of traffic signals to replace, and therefore decrease the project’s cost.

Gravois Avenue closures proposed - St. Louis, MO

Our take in April was that any closures should require a deliberate and public process. This has been provided by the GGI effort. The initial public outcry at plan led to a delay in the project. A final plan by MoDOT is expected soon.

While the public process was not always as friendly and cordial as some may prefer, GGI and interested residents found a willing listener in both MoDOT and the City of St. Louis Streets Department. As a result of the collaborative effort, a better plan is set to emerge.

The detailed plan remains with MoDOT, but we’re optimistic that most streets will remain open, with closures only at specific small triangle sites. We expect lane reductions from six to four, and perhaps four to two, with a center turn lane, along parts of Gravois. Added bumpouts and other basic infrastructure is likely as a tool to slow traffic and provide safer space for other street users.

Gravois Avenue closures proposed - St. Louis, MO
{six lanes of traffic and 35mph speed limit is common through neighborhoods along Gravois}

Gravois has the potential to be a true multi-use path connecting many south side neighborhoods. Including protected bike lanes as part of the project, there’s plenty of room, would be a great statement by the department of transportation and city that all modes of transportation are valued. A city street that works for everyone is also one that attracts new development and is economically sustainable.

In the end, the GGI effort has incredibly effective at creating a forum for those who care about their neighborhoods and city to help plan its future. Almost regardless of the final plan, the process is set to produce results. There’s some consensus that a business district be created, and other issues such as safety and lighting be addressed.

Next up: get seven aldermen (6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 15th, 20th, 25th), the city, and the state’s DOT on board.

Below is the final Phase I planned produced by the grassroots public planning effort:

Phase I for a Greater Gravois
The Greater Gravois Initiative (GGI) is a grassroots movement of neighbors, businesses, and leaders seeking to improve walkability, bikeability, and transit access on Gravois. The public engagement process for making Gravois Great started in April of 2015 with a petition gathering support for a more bike and pedestrian friendly corridor. One hundred and ten people signed our change.org petition, 112 responded to an online survey, and 150 people attended public meetings where a community vision for the corridor was developed. Through these meetings, surveys, and conversations, a vision for the Gravois Corridor has developed.

The timing of these events have coincided with the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Gravois Improvement Project. GGI has developed the Community’s Vision for a Greater Gravois and offers a plan for Phase 1 of a multi-phased implementation process. The following is a description of the priorities from the Community’s Vision for a Greater Gravois and our conceptual plan that we hope influences the MODOT’s 2016 Gravois Improvement Project.

Five Priorities for the Greater Gravois Corridor

  1. Citizens want to see the speed of traffic reduced through new design elements: bump outs, narrowing lanes, and removing lanes for other uses (i.e. wider sidewalks, dedicated protected bike lanes, dedicated transit lanes). Round-a-bouts were seen as a long term solution for many of the intersections to allow for more turning movements at six point intersections at a slower speed.
  2. Improving safety is a big concern for everyone. Improved lighting, police patrols on foot or bike, and safer signalized crossings at intersections for pedestrians and bikes.
  3. There was agreement on the need to create a business district(s) or a special district(s) to watch over and implement the changes, brand the corridor, and work to develop more economic development along the corridor.
  4. Beautification was seen as a key component of improving the corridor. This could be accomplished through added greenspace, street trees, property maintenance, and public art, among other things.
  5. Groups did not want to see a wholesale closing of streets. There may be places where it makes sense (i.e. small triangles.), but citizens were hesitant to agree to wholesale closures.

Priorities for intersections along Gravois

City residents love the grid, connectivity, and interconnected neighborhoods. Based on community feedback, GGI found that closing off these connections is not popular. There was agreement that the diagonal layout of Gravois, along with it being wider than necessary for its use, makes for many dangerous intersections for vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. There were some instances that residents felt might make sense to close a road, namely, one side of the small “triangle” intersections. (A side note: The triangle intersections could be an opportune place for public art, neighborhood entrance features, additional green space, or could be given to adjacent landowners.)

Other proposals to close streets were not favored by residents. In almost all cases, residents wanted to see the distance that pedestrians needed to cross at intersections to be shortened by bump outs and/or pedestrian refuges. The MODOT proposed improvements for pedestrians were all well received and residents had suggestions for other places to see these improvements. The consensus at the meeting was that the vehicular travel speed along Gravois needs to be reduced by a change in design of the roadway.

As additional funds become available, below is a list of priority intersections for improvements such as curb extensions and pedestrian islands:

  1. Jefferson/Sidney/Gravois
  2. Grand/Gravois
  3. Arsenal/Pennsylvania/Gravois
  4. Gustine/Gravois
  5. Hydraulic/Gravois
  6. Wyoming/Compton/Gravois
  7. Spring/Gravois
  8. Cherokee/Tennessee/Gravois

Design Concepts
These priorities informed the Greater Gravois Initiatives’ cross sections or ‘streetmixes’ and intersection design concepts seen on the following pages covering the length of Gravois from Chippewa to Geyer (or the I-55 N ramp). The Greater Gravois Initiative would like to see the improvements for bicyclists and transit continue into downtown.

Future Steps
The coordination of details for implementation, maintenance, and finding additional funding for all the proposed designs will have to involve a special district that is yet to be formed. Exploration into the feasibility of this is ongoing.

Contact the Greater Gravois Initiative with further questions or comments: [email protected]

Chippewa to Grand

Notes for re-striping:

  • Adding shared lane markings in both outside lanes
  • There are several places shown for future curb extensions – in the interim, these extensions could be painted
  • Maintain on-street parking as is (other than few spots lost when bump-outs are installed)
  • Long-term plans include decreased street parking, a neighborhood greenway for bikers, widened sidewalks and narrowed lanes, and more efficient use of public transit

Relevant Alderman:

  • Shane Cohn (25th ward) – Chippewa/Gravois intersection
  • Megan Green (15th ward) – both sides of Gravois from Chippewa to Grand
  • Cara Spencer (20th ward) – Grand/Gravois intersection

Chippewa_Gravois

  • Larger pedestrian refuge triangle on northeast corner and add piano key crosswalks

Roger/Gravois – no change

Winnebago_Gravois

  • Right in/right out (currently there are no left turns from northbound Gravois from 4-6pm)
  • Add a pedestrian refuge island in the roadway for people crossing Winnebago
  • Have a study done for the best place to put a push-button for pedestrian crossings in this stretch

Gustine_Gravois

  • Maintain right turn only lane heading south on Gravois
  • Add a curbed pedestrian refuge triangle where the current striped one is painted
  • Add piano key striped crosswalks
  • Bump-out three corners
  • Note: In regards to drainage/sewers, this intersection is at a relatively high altitude compared to the Chippewa/Gravois and Spring/Gravois intersections which are both low-lying

Hydraulic_Gravois

  • add bump-outs on all four corners
  • add piano key crosswalks on both sides of the street, crossing Gravois
  • maintain additional turn lanes where road is wider

Bamberger_Gravois

  • Right turn only from northbound Bamberger onto Gravois (street is currently 1 way out)
  • Right in/Right out on Bamberger north of Gravois

Spring_Gravois

  • Bump out curbs on all corners and add piano key striping

Giles/Gravois – no change

Grand_Jefferson

Notes about Re-striping:

  • Add protected bike lanes beginning at Grand/Gravois and heading northeast – planters could be added as a buffer between parking lanes and bike lanes, in the interim, this area would be painted (cement parking stops should be used instead of metal bollards to keep cars out of the bike lane)
  • Eliminate 1 driving lane in each direction
  • There is 3ft of extra room in this street design which could be added to the bike lanes or parking lanes

Relevant Alderman:

  • Megan Green (15th ward) – Grand/Gravois intersection and west side of Gravois to Utah
  • Cara Spencer (20th ward) – Grand/Gravois intersection and east side of Gravois to Cherokee
  • Ken Ortmann (9th ward) – east side of Gravois from Cherokee to Russell
  • Steve Conway (8th ward) – west side of Gravois from Utah to Wyoming
  • Christine Ingrassia (6th ward) – west side of Gravois from Wyoming to Jefferson

Grand_Gravois

  • Vacate Miami west of Grand in front of the Southside National Bank building and reshape curb line to allow for right turns off of Gravois onto southbound Grand Blvd. – Note: this is in accordance with the Lawrence Group’s comprehensive plan for the area
  • Bump-out northwest and northeast corners to shorten pedestrian travel distance
  • Add piano key crosswalks
  • In the future, Grand Blvd. north and south of Gravois should be re-striped to one-lane in each direction to maintain consistency with streetscape north and south of this stretch

Potomac/Gravois – no change

Cherokee_Tennessee_Gravois

  • Add pedestrian signal to cross Gravois at Cherokee
  • Make Cherokee two-ways west of Gravois (Aldermanic issue)
  • Bump out northeast and southeast corners
  • Side note: MODOT could consider making Tennessee one-way to simplify this intersection

Mckean_Gravois

  • Right in/right out at McKean

Louisiana/Gravois (south) – no change

Utah_Louisiana_Virginia_Gravois

  • Vacate triangle on Louisiana northwest of Gravois
  • Vacate triangle on Virginia South of Gravois (allowing alley access)
  • Add piano key crosswalks

Wyoming_Compton_Gravois

  • Bump-out curb lines as shown above
  • Consider no left turns from Compton to simplify intersection
  • Add piano key crosswalks

Michigan_Juniata_Minnesota_Gravois

  • Vacate Juniata east of Gravois and Michigan west of Gravois

Pennsylvania_Arsenal_Gravois

  • Bump-out the curbs at marked locations to shorten the crosswalk distance for pedestrians
  • Add piano key crosswalks

Nebraska/Gravois – no change

Pestalozzi_Oregon_Gravois

  • Vacate Oregon west of Gravois (temporarily closed currently) and Pestalozzi east of Gravois

California_Gravois

  • Add piano key striping to existing crosswalks and signal

Magnolia/Iowa/Gravois – no change

Lynch_Ohio_Gravois

  • Vacate Lynch on both sides of Gravois (only to the alley on the southeast side)
  • Note: on the northwest side of the street both sides of Lynch are owned by the Archdiocese of St. Louis and they are in favor of vacating the street. The same is the case with the owner of both sides of Lynch, just southeast of Gravois. In this unique situation, all property owners with adjacent property are in favor of vacating the street.

Texas/Gravois – no change

Jefferson_Russell

Notes for re-striping:

  • Add protected bike lanes (continued from Grand to Jefferson section)
  • Narrow parking lanes to allow for small buffer between parked cars and bike lanes
  • Eliminate one lane in each direction and add center turn lane

Relevant Alderman:

  • Christine Ingrassia (6th ward) – Jefferson/Sidney/Gravois intersection
  • Ken Ortmann (9th ward) – Jefferson/Sidney/Gravois intersection and east side of Gravois to Russell
  • Jack Coatar (7th ward) – west side of Gravois to downtown

Sidney_Jefferson_Gravois

  • Maintain no left turns from all directions
  • Bump out corners where displayed
  • Add piano key crosswalks
  • Add 4 pedestrian pedestrian refuge islands like the one pictured below (Note: all four pedestrian islands pictured will go into the center lane – which are not used at this intersection)

Sidney_Jefferson_Gravois_example

Victor_Gravois

  • Right turn only from westbound Victor onto Gravois (no left turns from westbound Victor)

McNair_Shenandoah_Gravois

  • Add piano key striping at McNair across Gravois
  • Enlarge pedestrian island at Shenandoah

Selena/Gravois – no change

Mississippi/Gravois – no change

Lemp/Gravois – no change

Ann/Gravois – no change

Russell to 55

Notes for re-striping:

  • Add shared lane markings on both outside lanes
  • Add clear signage directing bikes heading north into downtown east down Russell to protected bike lane on Broadway – similarly, bikes coming west on Russell should be given a shared lane marking to make left onto southbound Gravois to enter protected bike lane
  • Maintain 3 lanes in each direction through 55 entrance
  • Long term plans include: wider sidewalks in this section, and future transit-only lanes

Relevant Alderman:

  • Ken Ortmann (9th ward) – Russell/Gravois intersection
  • Jack Coatar (7th ward) – Russell/Gravois intersection and both sides of Gravois into downtown

Russell_Gravois

  • Enlarge pedestrian refuge to cross Gravois
  • Add piano key crosswalks
  • Add bike signage to direct northbound bikes exiting protected bike lane to continue right to Russell into
    buffered bike lane (and continue downtown via Broadway buffered bike lane)
  • Add bike signage and share the road symbol to left-turn lane coming from westbound Russell to allow bikes to turn into protected bike lane going south on Gravois
  • Note: directing bikes to use Gravois→Russell→Broadway (and vice versa) creates a continuous protected bike route from Grand/Gravois into downtown

13th/Gravois – no change

Allen/Gravois – no change

55_Tucker_Gravois

  • Add piano key crosswalks
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  • SeenInMaplewood

    It is interesting that MODOT moaned and whined about how to pay for roads and bridges after the proposed sales tax was rejected. I have an easy solution…give the roads back to the cities and counties that they are in. Why is Gravois a state road anyway? Manchester from Big Bend to Hanley is state owned. If Maplewood owned it, man it would be a lot different.

  • Rodney Malone

    I bike this almost every morning from Arsenal to Russell on Gravois. Everyday I think, “What in the world are we doing with 6 lanes of traffic crossing right through a huge swath of South City?” Thank you Alex and GGI. Are you listening Megan G and MoDot?

  • Eric

    I like most of what I see here but I can’t support the closure of Lynch and Pestalozzi at Gravois. These streets are the only access to southbound Gravois for those living to the east and my wife and I use these streets literally everyday. In some cases, multiple times a day. In the case of Lynch, it is one of the only spots to both turn left and cross Gravois at a light…closing it would be dangerous and makes no since. It accomplishes the task of funneling more local traffic to Arsenal, which is a street most of us try to avoid. It is interesting to note that the note on this particular closure indicates that the property owners on either side of the street are for the closure. Closing public streets shouldn’t be done at the behest of a property owner.

    • Matt Kastner

      Actually Eric, the line about all the property owners supporting closing Lynch is untrue and should be retracted by the GGI. I own 4 of the 6 parcels that touch the block of Lynch on the SE corner of that intersection. I am totally against the closure and have been very vocal about it. And the support of De Sales Church is because they want to demo the building they own on the corner to add parking (demo permit was just denied again last week). So the true story of this intersection is really not being told.

  • JZ71

    Some history, courtesy of the Vintage St. Louis facebook page: “November 21, 1831 The County Court appointed a group of commissioners to view and mark out a road from St. Louis to Fenton. Gravois road would become a state road in 1839. In 1914, it became the first concrete road in the county. August Busch footed half the bill for the road to be paved from the St. Louis city limits to the Busch estate at Grant’s Farm.”

  • David Hoffman

    I’m glad to see the area set for improvement, but going down to 2 driving lanes from Grand to Jefferson sounds like trouble. Wouldn’t that make a huge bottleneck, especially during the commuting times? One way to reduce ‘commuting’ traffic on Gravois would be for MODOT to connect northbound I-55 with westbound I-64, and eastbound I-64 with southbound I-55.

    • jhoff1257

      You must have missed the article here a few months back about the failed I-755 highway. I’m not interested in losing a huge chunk of Lafayette Square, the City Hospital and other parts of historic neighborhoods all to shave 3 minutes off a suburbanite’s commute. This region has more lane miles of highway per capita then any other city in the country (except Metro KC). We don’t need more!!!

      • David Hoffman

        Perhaps some critical thinking could solve this problem. I’m not interested in taking the City Hospital (great condos) or any part of the Lafayette Square neighborhood. Perhaps some ‘loop’ exits could work where the two interstates cross? Also, what about a second tier highway (many cities do this) built above Jefferson Avenue to connect from 64 to 44 and thus to 55. Our NEED isn’t really about how many ‘miles of highway’ already exist. It’s about what’s best for the region regardless of what’s already there. It’s not just ‘suburbanites’ who commute through this area. I do. I live in the city. Many people traveling ‘through’ St. Louis are probably also confused by this lack of access as well. Quite a bit of traffic is diverted through our neighborhoods.

        • Adam

          David, the point is, i think, that the city should not be designed for those who commute through it. It should be designed for those who live IN it to live outside of a car. Even for city residents to be able to commute quickly and easily from one side to the other means that those in between suffer a lower quality of life with fast-moving traffic running through their neighborhoods creating dead zones disconnecting them from surrounding neighborhoods, which in turn makes a car-free lifestyle impractical. Would YOU want to live with a highway in your front or back yard? Of course not. That’s why properties adjacent to highways just sit around and deteriorate. And then that deterioration creeps farther and farther into the neighborhood—you can see this in action all along 44 through St. Louis. If the last 50+ years have shown anything, it’s that building highways through the city has NOT been the best thing for the city OR the region, as is evident from the city’s population loss and the regions anemic growth. Frankly, I couldn’t care less if people traveling through St. Louis are confused that we haven’t plowed more of our city for their convenience. Washington DC didn’t. You can’t take an interstate through DC. You have to take the Beltway AROUND it. And that’s why DC is one of the most walkable and desirable cities in the US (not to mention their explosive transit growth). Trust me, navigating our highways is elementary compared to the Beltway. Lastly, I just don’t think it’s true that “quite a bit of traffic is diverted through our neighborhoods”. Presently, most traffic in the city is confined to a few arterial roads like Jefferson, Grand, Gravois, Kingshighway, Forest Park Ave, etc. The street grid was built to handle considerably more traffic than it currently does by diffusing it rather than concentrating it. Perhaps if we stopped closing streets we could take advantage of that extra capacity.

        • tbatts666

          Are you familiar with the concept of induced demand?

          The solution isn’t more infrastructure. it’s just not fiscally sound.

    • That was the plan, in the long ago. However, the land has been built on (Ameren HQ occupies part of it) and it would involve tearing down the western half of Lafayette Square. Land acquisition costs alone make that connection impossible, and if they didn’t, the politics of ripping out one of the city’s best neighborhoods would.

      • David Hoffman

        The connection could be made by going east of Lafayette Square.

      • David Hoffman

        What if the connection were somewhere in this area shown in green? This would not impact Lafayette Square.

        • That cuts through the Purina campus, rail lines, and would require reconstructing the double decker lanes. That’s a multibillion dollar project. Just forget about it.

        • tbatts666

          You are really advocating deleting these neighborhoods and businesses for a what… 5 minute commute shortening?

          People live outside of Lafayette square.

    • tbatts666

      Sll the problems with gravois have to do with excess lights. You’re not usually waiting due to congestion, but because wide roads necessitate lights.

      Two lanes can easily be managed wth a roundabout instead of a light.

      In any. case safety should always given priority right?

    • SeenInMaplewood

      If people don’t like the bottleneck, they can go a different way or just live closer to where they work. I have heard many people complain about how traffic backs up in #mplwd and how parking is so bad. Good, don’t come here. My neighborhood is not just the void that exists between point A and point B.

  • KevinW

    It just comes down to priorities. Gravois isn’t a priority for MoDOT since the city owns the road so
    MoDOT won’t put in extra $ on a road that isn’t theirs. And the city doesn’t have any $ to put into it. What you will get is what we get on any MoDOT non interstate when it comes to bike/ped accomedations and that can be found in the Gateway Bike Plan

    • SeenInMaplewood

      That sounds like a good argument for City rejoining the county. It would make the most sense as a county road, but since…well, nevermind.

  • Bernard Finucane

    I don’t see how you can justify NOT having bump-outs at any intersection with a parking lane. The parking space next to the intersection can’t be parked in, so why not make it sidewalk space? The only use those spaces no have is allowing dangerous corner cutting by cars. If new curbs are too expensive, flexible bollards could be used. These improvements would not impede traffic flow in the corridor.

    Another way this street could be improved is by narrowing the entrances to the many parking lots and by replacing the strips of grass between the street and the sidewalk with something walkable but permeable like cobblestones. These two measures would greatly increase the area where pedestrians you walk comfortably.

    Finally, there are a lot of sharp corners here ideal for small box retail or street vendors. The city should review its setback and parking requirement laws to encourage more economic activity in this area.

    • tbatts666

      Right on!!! I wish we talked about this in the greater gravois meetinnsZ

  • Scott Nauert

    I guess I missed the part about synchronizing traffic lights on this corridor?? Because that should be priority #1. And ditto that for the rest of the city.

    • tbatts666

      I agree it makes sense….

      But shouldn’t safety be priority number 1?

      • Scott Nauert

        Precisely – the less time you have to sit at a light waiting for ghost traffic, the less chance a thug has to carjack you. A friend of mine had the pleasure of experiencing this, and the ensuing shower of bullets missed his head by a few inches.

    • SeenInMaplewood

      And county. I have never lived anywhere before that has such poorly controlled traffic signals.

      • Scott Nauert

        Could not agree more. I addressed several intersections with STL County in the past, and the mentality – much the same as MODOT’s – is, each timing sequence is unique to each intersection. This means nothing is coordinated/synchronized, which explains the mess we have. And they like to do these “one size fits all” programs at these intersections. For instance, a good example is the exit ramp coming off EB I-44 to go NB on Laclede Station Rd. I sit for the same amount of time at midnight when there is little-to-no opposing traffic as I do at 1 p.m., when there is opposing traffic. The mentality for this type of programming is moronic, to put it lightly.

  • On its project page, MODOT’s reasoning stems (partially) from the fact Gravois is a diagonal street in a grid-based area causing, as MODoT posits, “…6 legs of traffic at one intersection instead of a normal 4 legged intersection.”

    It’s interesting to note that some of the most active areas, and some of the most interesting architecture/planning on Chicago’s northside, is centered around these six corner intersections, of which there are dozens. Travel up Lincoln/Milwaukee/Clark (to a lesser extent), and you’ll see how these intersections can be an asset, so long as your primary function isn’t expediently moving private vehicles through the area and damn the rest.

    I’ve started collecting pictures of some of these six corner scenes, and planned to do a post about them, specifically as it relates to What Could Be along St. Louis’ few diagonals and the “wedge” parcels that result from it. (Off the top of my head, I can really only think of the place at Manchester and Arco as a cool, contributory use). Here’s one example from the Montrose/Lincoln/Leavitt, a pizza place that opened recently…and it looks even neater with the sidewalk cafe set up and the sign on!

    • Chicagoan

      Damen/Milwaukee North is one of my favorites (in Wicker Park). Made even better by the fact that The 606 is just a couple of blocks north (if anyone is ever visiting Chicago, it’s a must see!). Kedzie/Logan/Milwaukee (Logan Square) is also pretty good. One of the underrated ones is Broadway/Lawrence/Racine in Uptown, a bunch of beautiful buildings there and some really cool small businesses. Six Corners in Portage Park (Cicero/Irving Park/Milwaukee) was once one of the best before falling off. It’s coming back slowly.

      Unfortunately, Chicago still has a lot of prime corner storefront space being occupied by a breakfast place with a parking lot (or something with a parking lot). Thankfully, we’re starting to get rid of these spots.

      I’ve always thought Choteau/Manchester/Vandeventer seemed like a great place for something like this.

  • Judy Smith Milan

    Am I reading this correctly: From Grand to Jefferson one lane would be removed in each direction to add a bike lane? There are only 2 lanes in each direction now which would take it down to one lane in each direction? I drive Gravois every day and rarely see anyone on a bike. If there were more bikes, I would understand the need, but giving up a driving lane for bikes that are non-existent is ridiculous.

    • Alex Devlin

      The lack of a barrier is probably why you don’t see bikes. Bikers rarely go where they don’t feel safe riding.

    • Adam

      i really don’t understand this kind of circular reasoning. it’s beyond obvious that you don’t see cyclists on Gravois because biking on Gravois in it’s current state is DANGEROUS for cyclists. it’s like saying we don’t need sidewalks because you never see people walking down the middle of the street.

      • Judy Smith Milan

        Actually, people walking down the middle of the street when there are sidewalks is a whole other issue – it’s epidemic.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Do have any thoughts on why someone would walk down the middle of the street? (It’s been studied, written about, examined, and something of a consensus has emerged.)

          • Judy Smith Milan

            I really don’t understand it. I see it every day and get stared down by people walking in the middle of the street acting like their mad they have to move for me. I was taught to use the sidewalk, not jaywalk and obey traffic signals. I truly don’t understand the mentality.

        • Rodney Malone

          Take a walk down Gravois, try to find a safe street crossing, and you’ll see why pedestrians are not happy with you.

      • Judy Smith Milan

        I also take side streets at various times on my way to work and still, rarely see cyclists on the way to work downtown. I’m not advocating against bikes at all. I just can’t see making drivers suffer for something that’s not needed. Maybe a trial to see if it will draw cyclists is what is needed.

        • Alex Ihnen

          The city, businesses, and other users “suffer” from fast moving traffic, and from the space occupied by streets that are virtually empty a large portion of the day. Too many streets/roads/highways are built for rush hour – and perform poorly even then. The pendulum has swing to an extreme degree to accommodate personal cars, which also sit about 95% of the time.

          In my opinion, any defense of the current state of Gravois Avenue, or desire to speed traffic along even faster, needs to explain how the city has benefitted to-date by widening streets and making our built environment hostile to anyone not in a car.

          • Judy Smith Milan

            I understand what you mean and am not disagreeing, other than I don’t think Gravois is in any way empty a large portion of the day. There are so many factors to consider. Unfortunately, we do have “rush hour” and most people just want an easy commute, especially in the morning when you don’t anticipate stopping anywhere on the way. If you take away from/slow down traffic on Gravois, which is a main thoroughfare through South City, won’t you possibly be diverting traffic onto side streets, making it unsafe for residents (children playing, etc.)?

          • onecity

            A big part of STL’s street problem is that there are broken connections all over the street grid (Schoemehl pots, dead end streets that used to be open, other forms of barricading), and they force all the car traffic onto just a handful of city streets. Those streets happen to also be many of the same streets that have all the infrastructure for neighborhood retail and business, but which 40mph traffic have turned into a totally hostile environment for people visiting those businesses, and so they are also often a crappy place to do business if you rely on walk-in customers. The experience of visiting those businesses is made unsafe and ugly by a ridiculous overaccommodation for speeding traffic. The street is overflowing with old storefronts that were vital until moving cars took precendence over the street’s function as, well, a street that serves the neighborhoods it runs through. The fact is if folks are bothered so much by how it impacts their commute to downtown, maybe they should live closer to downtown. I mean, if you want to take a shortcut through my yard because it makes your walk faster, it isn’t my job to provide you that luxury, and it isn’t the adjoining neighborhoods’ jobs to sacrifice their prime commercial districts’ ability to function as such so folks from a different area, quite possibly even outside the city, can speed through their neighbhorhoods, not use their businesses, and trash up their neighborhood with noise, unsafe metal boxes moving at high speeds, and exhaust soot.

          • Chicagoan

            This is quite possibly the best thing I’ve read on this site, onecity. Bravo.

        • onecity

          Do you live in the city limits? Or in one of the neighborhoods along Gravois that are immediately affected by all the car traffic? The way the street is built now, it’s basically a high speed highway through residential neighborhoods, and it kills all the foot traffic for businesses along Gravois in that area, because Gravois sucks to walk on, and is dangerous to ride on. The city needs to be designed for the people that live in its neighborhoods, not for moving cars around.

        • agreeing with what Adam said: Gravois is ridiculously dangerous for bicycles. I stay off it. I often bike to/from Downtown West and various points in south city, and I take a circuitous route that stays one or two blocks north of Gravois. This is time consuming and uncomfortable (since a lot of those side streets are not well paved) but I have a higher chance of making it home alive.

      • STLEnginerd

        Ok but lets not kid ourselves. Adding a bike lane will not necessarily result in a deluge of cyclists on Gravois. I have no problem with narrowing Gravois, but I would favor wider sidewalks over bicycle lanes on sections reduced to a single lane of traffic each way and a turn lane. I just think you get more bang for your buck. I would probably only go to three lanes between from Compton to Jefferson (Grand to Compton doesn’t have as much immediate potential as a retail district IMHO) If traffic is slowed down, as it naturally will when lanes are eliminated, the bikes can ride on the street with the cars as they do in the Delmar Loop.

        • Adam

          sure. “just adding a bike lane” anywhere doesn’t guarantee ridership. it’s going to require a combination of bike lane + traffic calming. everyone thought the world would end when Grand got calmed south of Arsenal. instead, traffic flows fine, it makes for a much more comfortable pedestrian/cycling experience, and more businesses have opened along that stretch.

          • STLEnginerd

            True! BUT there are no bike lanes on S. Grand either. As i said i have no problem narrowing Gravois, but I think wider sidewalks trump adding bike lanes. IMHO bike lanes should go places you expect traffic to maintain high speeds. A narrowed stretch has less need for bike lanes (see Delmar Loop, AND S. Grand for examples)

            The only reason i say only go from Compton to Jefferson is to give a core district time to gestate. After a decade the district could be reevaluated and expanded as needed.

            As a side note I bet QuikTrip would throw a fit at any effort to narrow that stretch as proposed.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Really couldn’t disagree more. Bike lanes do not belong where traffic is expected to maintain high speeds. A separated bike track maybe. My guess on Gravois is that the road itself isn’t narrowing, that is, the sewer inlets, etc. aren’t moving, since that’s very expensive. This means sidewalk space doesn’t change much. So the challenge becomes what to build/paint in the current street width. Going from two parking lanes and four driving lanes to two parking, two driving, a center turn lane, and bike lanes, fits well. You can’t add a turn lane without removing parking and so if there’s a turn lane you have sort of leftover space.

          • STLEnginerd

            So I’m not sure were speaking the same language when we say “high speed” so lets level set a bit. There is an oft posted graphic on this site, that defines a “stroad”. Streets have average traffic speeds in the neighborhood of 20mph, stroad average about 35, and roads 55. With that framework, I’d submit that for cyclist can a should intermix with traffic on streets, bicycle lanes make sense on stroads where drivers are moving to fast to properly watch for cyclists, and roads make more sense to have grade separation. This proposal seems to take Gravois for at least a short section between Grand and Gravois from stroad to street and as such cyclist should be able to easily intermix with cars.

            You do make a good point with the cost to move sewers but I’ll say that I think an engineering assessment would be necessary before you can say definatively that it makes the cost unworkable. Many sewers are on corners where bump-outs are already proposed, so the cost to move those exists regardless. You may be right though that the added costs are prohibitive.

            I still think widened sidewalks present a significantly higher economic benefit than bicycle lanes in small scale urban commercial districts like the Loop, and S. Grand, AND that if cars are traveling at reasonable street speeds (~20mph), cyclists will likely have no issue mixing in with cars.

          • Adam

            I think the “street, stroad, road” distinction is a good one. Given that only 50% of pedestrians (I’m including cyclists) survive being hit at 35 mph and 10% survive being hit at 40 mph, I think that dedicated (and preferably protected) bike lanes are absolutely necessary on roads and stroads if we want those roads and stroads to be used by cyclists. On streets (i.e. speed limit < 25 mph and likelihood of survival 90%) I agree that bike lanes are probably not necessary. However, Gravois is not a street and is not going to become a street even after this overhaul.

          • STLEnginerd

            “However, Gravois is not a street and is not going to become a street even after this overhaul.”

            I thought that was the whole point of narrowing it to one lane in either direction (proposed for Grand to Jefferson section). I’d agree that the rest of Gravois needs bike lanes. I am only referring to this section as proposed in my comments.

          • Adam

            I’m just speaking in terms of MPH. Just based on Street View it looks like the speed limit along the narrowed portion of S. Grand is indeed 25 MPH. I thought it was higher than that—regardless, people still driver faster than 25. I’m not seeing any mention of speed limits above for the Gravois changes so perhaps it’ll also be 25 along this stretch. Another problem, though, is that you’ll have a rather abrupt change from 35 (40?) to 25 and then back to 35 (40?) on either side of this stretch of Gravois. Same on S. Grand. So to me it makes sense to just have a continuous bike lane. If ALL of Grand and ALL of Gravois within the city—or at least the majority of it—were 25 MPH then periodic bike lanes would be appropriate IMO.

          • tbatts666

            I hear The standard for Denmark is closer to 20 mph for a good shared speed standard.

          • Adam

            “…AND that if cars are traveling at reasonable street speeds (~20mph), cyclists will likely have no issue mixing in with cars.”

            that’s a big “if”. it’s still common for people to drive 30-35 mph along the pedestrianized stretch of S. Grand. in my mind any thoroughfare like Grand, Jefferson, Gravois, etc. should have dedicated, protected bike lanes. Smaller thoroughfares like Arsenal and Morganford should at least have bike lane markings, and neighborhood streets like Hartford, Juniata, Spring, etc. don’t need them.

          • tbatts666

            South Grand has not yet reaches its traffic calming potential.

            I tend to agree that I think that in abscence of effective traffic calming a safe option of everyone is necessary.

          • tbatts666

            What do you think is a good cutoff for too fast for shared use?

          • tbatts666

            I especially like the new barriers in the right of way.

            grand is amazing… The street narrowing there was a fantastic idea., but remember that it could be an even better pedestrian experience.

    • Alex Ihnen

      It’s hard to judge the need for a bridge by counting the number of people swimming across a river. (just to add to the slightly snarky, but honest replies)

    • Steve Kluth

      I didn’t see cars trying to float cross the Mississippi where there was no bridge between the MLK and McKinley Bridges, yet they built a bridge there when there was clearly no need. Nor was there a ferry taking care of all those who needed to get from Westport to south end of St Chuck and beyond so there was obviously no need, yet they built a 10 lane bridge. I propose a moratorium on building any new roads until there is so much traffic on the dirt or water to prove a need.

    • JCougar

      As a cyclist who lives downtown but who travels to this area a lot, sadly, I have to drive a lot of the time, because this street is extremely dangerous for cyclists. Therefore, you don’t see me biking it. I’ll still do it if it’s mid-day and clear weather, but traffic on this street is usually going far beyond an already generous speed limit.

      If I have to go west to the Central West End or beyond, there’s at least a half-assed bike lane down Olive for a stretch, and there’s also the Metrolink. But public transit from downtown to the near-southwest side is already extremely poor (the Gravois bus only leaves once every 40 minutes). It would be nice to have a slightly less lethal method of transport in this city that doesn’t involve getting in a car and wasting a precious resource (oil) while doing nothing to keep you healthy and fit.

    • tbatts666

      I ride Gravois a ton. I’ve been hit by a car on Gravois…. I blame the crash mostly on gravois dangerous design.

      Your ignorance about how other people experience the city is repulsive.

    • SeenInMaplewood

      There is no reason that stretch of road needs 3 lanes in each direction. Assuming that removing lanes will somehow cause tons of traffic backup is just ridiculous. The cut out lanes on Arsenal by Tower Grove park and yes you have to stop a little more often when people are turning left, but traffic still flows well and I am sure there are typical a-hole drivers ho think they are throwing away their life by getting “stuck” in traffic, but it doesn’t take any longer. People’s perception of what is safe or what’s congestion is very very often disconnected with reality when it comes to driving their car.

  • KevinW

    Should be interested too see what the final plan is. Gravois is not a normal road. It’s city owned and MoDOT maintained so I doubt MoDOT will want to do anything beyond what was planned unless the city pays for anything above and beyond.

  • Matt Kastner

    Ohio/Lynch: “On the northwest side of the street both sides of Lynch are owned by the Archdiocese of St. Louis and they are in favor of vacating the street. The same is the case with the owner of both sides of Lynch, just southeast of Gravois. In this unique situation, all property owners with adjacent property are in favor of vacating the street.”

    This statement (in terms of the southeast corner of this intersection) is wholly untrue. I own the adjacent buildings at 2654 Gravois, 2648-52 Gravois, 2633 Lynch and 2638 Lynch. Roger Huddleston owns the collection of buildings at 2800 Ohio (going southward). Gary Bollinger owns the building at 2801 Texas (on the corner with Lynch).

    All three of use, in no uncertain terms have stood up in the original MODOT meeting and stated unequivocally that we were against closing off Lynch. For my part, I have expressed this to all local officials involved as I believe Roger has. There has in fact been very vocal opposition to closing the street by EVERYONE with adjacent properties. If this closure occurs it will certainly not be with our consent.

    • Catherine

      The Greater Gravois Initiative spoke with the owner of 2800 Ohio Ave and 2656 Gravois Ave, the two properties directly adjacent to Lynch at Gravois, and he was in favor of vacating Lynch to the alley.

      • northstar

        Why is that up to only those property owners to decide rather than all residents of the street and surrounding areas? Isn’t that how stl’s streets got so fucked up in the first place?

  • It’s really too bad that a streetcar line isn’t being considered for Gravois. It seems like a logical alignment for all kinds of reasons: 1) It’s a wide street; 2) It’s structurally dense and relatively intact, offering plenty of opportunities for new urban investment; 3) It hits almost every major intersection in South City and close proximity to a lot of destination neighborhoods (Soulard, Lafayette Square, Tower Grove, Cherokee, etc); 4) It’s a direct link to downtown St. Louis via Tucker.

    • Chicagoan

      I was just thinking this.

      Should the streetcar line come to fruition, this’ll definitely happen, right?

      Does the fact that it’s a state-owned street potentially hamper that?

      • If I had to guess, the path of “least” resistance would be by revoking its state highway status and turning ownership (and maintenance) over to the City. Personally, I’d be all for it — anytime you can have public assets within the city under city control, that’s preferable (so long as leaders/stakeholders competently manage and improve it). But does the City want it and can the City maintain it? And does the state/MODoT want to relinquish it? Those are just a couple of the big the questions that must be considered.

    • Catherine

      Trust me, we considered a street car, expanded Metro (BRT), Metrolink, etc. and all are very viable options for the future! As this was just a Phase 1 plan, those weren’t included in the initial changes. That being said, by keeping the center turn lane and decreasing driving lanes, it will hopefully serve as the perfect baby-step towards another mode of transit (possibly running down the middle…). Progress!

      • I was referring to the fact that East-West Gateway has apparently ruled out Gravois for a future North-South MetroLink alignment.

      • SnakePilssken

        This is STL everything ends at phase 1.

    • The money probably isn’t there. Streetcar lines cost around $25 million per mile. So to get a streetcar from Chippewa up Gravois/Tucker to Chouteau would be $100 million, and then you’ve got the issue of getting it into downtown over the Tucker bridge and building a way for people to transfer to the Metrolink/bus. You’d need to create a special tax district around Gravois to pull in part of the money, and the rest would have to come from federal grants, but that pool is shrinking. Streetcars are probably not going to happen in our life time.

      But! Improved bus service is totally possible, and fairly cheap. If Saint Louisans could get over their bus phobia.

  • Robb Blackwell

    maybe great for the people living directly on Gravois, but horrible for the people of south city who use Gravois as a direct line to downtown every day. reducing lanes will only increase traffic which is already at capacity. and we’ll see the city and state spend tens of thousands of dollars to make these changes, only to come back through and undo them within a year (like they did on Chippewa between Gravois/MorganFord last year).

    and more bike lanes that no one will use? that’s a great use of the bicycle property tax – oh, wait, no these are completely paid for by motorists.

    • Alex Devlin

      There are 2 interstates in south city. Those are convenient options if someone is trying to get to downtown in a hurry. They’re trying to build a neighborhood, not an interstate.

      • Robb Blackwell

        Incorrect, there are no interstates running through Bevo Mill, Southampton, Tower Grove South or Kingshighway Hills. To get to an interstate we have to use Kingshighway (already a nightmare), Gravois or Holly Hills.

        This is a street, a thoroughfare, a passage. And in fact it’s not just a street but a Missouri State numbered highway. It goes through neighborhoods and is infrastructure for many, but it is not a “neighborhood” in and of itself. People are overthinking it and badly.

        • Alex Devlin

          So now our goal is to have an interstate in every neighborhood? I’m counting numerous entrances, from numerous thoroughfares, onto both 44 and 55 from south city. If Gravois becomes slower, you may decide to take a different route. I think most agree the benefit of a strong commercial presence and pedestrian safety far out weigh the drawbacks.

          • Robb Blackwell

            you are the one who brought up an interstate. if I wanted to drive an interstate to work everyday I wouldn’t live where I do. I chose my neighborhood (12 years ago) because of the convenience to downtown via Gravois, among other fantastic amenities Bevo offers. driving to an interstate would double my commute in time and miles. that makes no sense when a perfectly good major thoroughfare, two blocks from my house, goes right to my destination.

          • Brett

            But, that’s the entire reason why we have four major interstates running through the county and city. A street is a street. It should be the foundation of a neighborhood, whether it be commercial or or residential.

            Driving down Gravois is horrible. The entire strip is mostly an eyesore or filled with gas stations/quick marts, pay day loans and ignored tenements and business buildings. People also consistently drive 15+ MPH over the speed limit, nearing highway speeds.

            Would you honestly say you would rather the entire Gravois corridor continue to flounder in economic stangancy just so you can have a quicker ride to work? Instead of basing your location on a “thoroughfare” to work (Gravois), maybe you should have just moved to a neighborhood actually close to where you work. That’s how neighborhoods have always worked, actually.

          • Robb Blackwell

            This is the other part of the discussion that bothers me, because it’s said this is to build neighborhoods up, which so often translates to “move the poor black people out and move the middle- to upper-middle class white people in.” All those eyesores are places poor folks shop, for better or worse — although I’ve been known to duck in a few of those seedy restaurants for take-out on the way home — and are doing well enough to stay in business, but not probably not well enough to be the prettified hipster ideal. Progress often means “hide the poor people another place” and that’s what this sounds like to me.

          • Brett

            No, I’d say it’s more about making jobs for poor people. To do that, you need stabilized businesses. To also do that, you need a population that has jobs and expendable income. To get businesses to come in, people need to want to come to that area to spend money. I’m sure it’s a combination of a laundry list of things, but the bottom line is that there is little incentive for new businesses to open up on that stretch for the most part.

            I’m moreso referring to abandoned buildings and generally neglected properties rather than existing businesses that are operating. I’m not trying to peel apart social constructs of poverty, I’m just saying that keeping that area a high-speed area is doing nothing for the people WHO ACTUALLY LIVE THERE. As opposed to you, who lives on the entire opposite end of Gravois (in relation to the area in question) who just uses it for a thoroughfare to downtown. That entire stretch of Gravois could benefit so much more if it were serving the population than just commuters as it has for a long time.

            Embrace the great interstate system in this city. Or maybe move to a neighborhood which makes more sense for your work commute?

          • onecity

            And having generally wealthier neighbors that can pay for the upkeep is bad because why?

          • Tim E

            Robb, I’m kinda of confused. Based why you live there and where you work and through in the fact that city density is really not that big/dense/as crowded to other metro I have a tough understanding how these changes will significantly increase your commute time. Another way to put it, I’m envious of your situation considering that my commute is an hour or more one way since moving to San Fran Bay area from St. Louis.
            .
            At the same time believe or at the impression I get from your comments is that somehow your drive to work will take twice as long. I think if traffic counts were posted it would state the reality or the fact of the matter is that Gravios is overbuilt for the traffic it handles, the density of the surrounding area it serves and the inherent danger of high speeds that the road allows for a street. But importantly, I think the numbers at of end day which most likely be the number of minutes to get work for most people will change very little at the same time the accident count will drop which is a benefit to you at the end of day.

        • Adam

          This is the typical St. Louis attitude and the reason that St. Louis is a mostly unwalkable pedestrian nightmare: “every inch of surface in St. Louis should serve to get me from where I am to where I want to go—via my car, of course—as conveniently as possible FOR ME and screw quality of life for the people who actually live in between.” Go walk around Washington DC, for example, and then tell me that “people are overthinking it and badly”.

          • Robb Blackwell

            I don’t share your value of walkability. be dismissive and call it typical but, yes, it probably is a majority opinion to make driving the default mode of transport. no one, ever, asked for every inch of St. Louis to get me places, but I do expect the streets to serve their primary function.

          • Adam

            “be dismissive…”

            you mean like how you’re dismissing the wishes of those who actually live adjacent to that stretch of Gravois?

            “…I do expect the streets to serve their primary function.”

            and it will, just not necessarily to your liking. sorry, but there’s no mandate that roads have to favor your convenience over others’ quality of life. life is full of disappointments.

          • Robb Blackwell

            I do live adjacent to Gravois so whose wishes outrank?

          • Adam

            I said “that stretch of Gravois”, meaning the stretch between roughly Grand and Russel—you know, the part we’re talking about. Do you live along that particular stretch? If you do, then either your opinion is in the minority or you and other like-minded locals weren’t motivated enough to organize any opposition. good luck.

          • Ian W.

            Hmm. Interesting, streets haven’t always served that purpose, and that is also not necessarily the primary purpose everywhere. You can argue I favor of cars, bikes, walkers or whatever, that is your opinion. But, general have more diverse ways of movement is beneficial. Sure, there are times where it does work, but I also know that everytime an interference of auto traffic comes up people expect the worst, and most of the time drivers just find a different, and sometimes better way.

        • Steve Kluth

          I have lived in both Bevo and Southampton along with Princeton Heights at various times. I always found it easier to go down Bates or Loughborough to I-55 than to navigate the cutthroat driving on Gravois. If there was an accident on 55, I’d just shoot over to Broadway.

          • Agreed. I’d always do the same…Loughborough to Broadway and north into downtown with little-to-no traffic.

            On those rare occasions when there’s actual traffic jams on I-55 (opposed to the kind-of-slow moving highway traffic that St. Louisans consider a jam), I’d always be amazed more folks didn’t just divert to B’Way. I’m assuming every south countian has been told at one point or another the area east of I-55 is dangerous (state streets!) so they just plod away on the highway…

    • SnakePilssken

      Take your morning dump at work rather than at home and you’ll be fine…or leave 10 minutes earlier.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Gravois is not at capacity. In fact, it’s quite empty most of the day. The question is really to what extent residents should accommodate those simply passing through their neighborhood? We know from experience that a street which accommodates all users is more inviting and economically productive (see South Grand, Manchester, Delmar, Kirkwood, etc.). And the idea that motorists completely pay for streets and roads isn’t true.

      This type of conventional wisdom, so to speak, is, and should be under attack. If someone believes that widening streets has helped St. Louis, and Gravois as a thoroughfare has produced an attractive and economically viable city, well, one can make that argument. I think the evidence shows this isn’t the case. Maybe we should try something else, something that has worked in other parts of our city. Maybe we can build a better city.

      • Robb Blackwell

        The 2016 city budget claims $8.55 million in gas tax revenues for 2015 (earmarked for street/highway maintenance) and a streets expenditures budget of $8.33 million ($7.9 million coming directly from gas tax revenues and another $400K from grants/other). I did say property tax above, but the point remains that roads are funded by motorists.

        • Ian W.

          Most cyclists in the st Louis area still drive, and this past the same taxes. Drivers are also one of the major causes for road damage, bikes do minimal damage.

  • I kiiiind of feel Pestalozzi should have a bus route, not sure. It’s got some sections where it makes perfect sense, others where it doesn’t and terminates at two suberb destinations — Tower Grove Park and A-B Brewery.

    If it makes sense as a bus route, then a suggested change would be to vacate the Nebraska portion rather than the Pestalozzi section at Gravois. That, and it’s just a much “stronger E-W street that should be retained across Gravois.

  • Chicagoan

    How do I say “Gravois”?

    Grav-wah, or Grav-oy?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Either Grav-oy or Gray-oies from what I’ve heared around STL.

      • 1) Grav-oy is the “correct” St. Louis pronunciation.
        2) Grav-oys is an abomination, like weirdos who say Illinois as Illi-noise (ooh…I may have just inadvertently come up with a name for a Death Metal festival).
        3) In reality, it’s Grah-vwah (or Gah-vwah) but hey, it’s an American city with French heritage so we allow for the adjusted pronunciation…though some would say butchered pronunciation. 🙂

        • Andy

          The correct pronunciation is grav-oy as it is from before the french revolution and before french was standardized such that the -ois ending would always be pronounced as -wah. This is also why Illinois is pronounced ill-in-oy instead of ill-in-wah.

          Some may say we butcher it but it is actually the historically correct pronunciation.

          • Chicagoan

            Grav-oy it is.
            Thank you all.

        • Jon

          Sufjan already beat you to it on the Illi-noise idea.

  • Brian

    It is great to see the public input being heeded. There are sure to be howls of protest over putting Gravois on a street diet, but I hope MoDOT keeps residents, cyclists and pedestrians in mind. My weekend perambulations through Tower Grove East take me across Gravois, and it is not a pleasant experience. An improved Gravois will improve the quality of life for the neighborhood.

  • mc

    We need less stop lights and more roundabouts. That is all. We need to change all stop lights into roundabouts.

  • Bryan Kirchoff

    The common proposition is that multi-modal transportation routes foster development. But is it possible that cramming vehicular traffic into two fewer lanes simply backs up Gravois enough that some motorists decide to use alternate routes, thus losing potential customers? Again, my experience is the rededication of two lanes of Union to bicycles has succeeded only in backing up traffic on Union, all for a number of bicycles that has yet to break into double-digits over months of my commute.
    Bryan Kirchoff
    St. Louis

    • An interesting take. Some would say that reducing lanes is simply “right-sizing” a traffic system that placed too much emphasis on urban arterials in the first place. If that initially causes back-ups on Gravois, and people seek alternate routes through City streets, I’d say that’s a positive.

      It’s the checkout line theory — in the same way shoppers will evenly distribute as more checkout lanes become available, so too will cars once more options become available. If Gravois is no longer the get-on-and-go inner-city thoroughfare it has been, then “street level” business can have a chance to fluorish, both there and along the newly-popular alt. routes.

    • Alex Ihnen

      If reducing travel lanes from 6 to 4, or 4 to 2 in some places had the effect of losing customers, perhaps expanding lanes would increase customers? We know that this isn’t the case. We have examples of fewer traffic lanes producing/supporting vibrant commercial corridors: South Grand, The Loop, The Grove, downtown Kirkwood, etc.

  • Brent Hugh

    Excellent summary and analysis. Thank you.

    It is going to be really telling what MoDOT does (or doesn’t do) in response to this.

  • matimal

    Great reporting….You might put the Post Dispatch out of business if you keep this up;)!

    • Alex Ihnen

      Thanks. FWIW, I’m probably losing less money than the P-D. 🙂 They have some great reporters/writers there and St. Louis desperately needs it to succeed. We’ll just keep filling gaps & adding what we can to the conversation.