MoDOT, Gross Negligence and Death on St. Louis Roads

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A 7-year-old was struck and killed in west St. Louis County on Saturday around 6:45 pm, a tragedy that no family should ever have to endure. A vehicle making a left turn out of a parking lot onto highway 109 fatally struck Rachael Bick of Ballwin. Straddling the highway where the child was struck are Babler Elementary School and the Elaine Rosi Academy for Children. The highway is maintained by the cash-strapped and over-extended Missouri Department of Transportation.

Hwy 109 school

The highway was built as a road- meant to move cars quickly between places. It’s being turned into a stroad (video) as development occurs along it. A stroad tries to function as both a road and a street and fails at both. A stroad environment is predictably dangerous. The highway has no pedestrian safety features at the site of Saturday’s tragedy, not even quite affordable paint. The nearest traffic light is about 500 ft away and the nearest marked crosswalk is 1000 ft away. We can’t expect anyone to walk that far to cross Highway 109.

The Post-Disptach has profiled other citizens’ struggles to get around without an effectively government-mandated car. Every day, 78-year-old Vita O’Hare crosses Olive Boulevard (MO 340) near Faust Park. Her choices are: not visit her husband, get a car like a normal person, be dependent on others for rides, risk her life on Olive Stroad. She exemplifies the coming crisis of growing old in spread out built environments. We all know she is at risk, but we voluntarily disregard it.

18 year-old LaTonya Williams walked 141 to work from public housing in Valley Park to her job at Burger King. She exemplifies the low-wage worker who would have to devote a huge percentage of income if she burdened herself with a car. From her home government has offered two choices: get a car like normal people or risk her life walking 141. Grave injury is a foreseeable outcome of walking 141. Ironically and tragically she moved away from this despotic environment to Hillsdale. While walking on the sidewalk in Wellston, she and her boyfriend were struck and killed by a car, whose driver shouldn’t have been driving- someone else driving for lack of options due to government priorities.

Just a day before the death of Rachel Bick, Ellisville residents expressed concern over speeding on a nearby Old State Road. With so much distance between everything, it’s no wonder people want to drive fast. The speed limit is not the problem; it’s the stroad design. Everyone knows it’s dangerous, yet we consciously disregard the predictable harm our infrastructure and land use choices cause.

Hwy 109 signs school{The only things protecting kids from cars. I doubt the light was flashing given the time of the incident.}

Options to enhance safety here are numerous, obvious, and many are cheap. Obvious if our priority is to not kill kids (or anyone else) rather than moving as many cars as quickly as possible. If a company were this negligent, the parents would and could sue.

Gross negligence is a conscious and voluntary disregard of the need to use reasonable care, which is likely to cause foreseeable grave injury or harm to persons, property, or both. It is conduct that is extreme when compared with ordinary Negligence, which is a mere failure to exercise reasonable care.

Strong Towns Podcast with Chuck Marohn, PE AICP, on the gross negligence of our current approach to infrastructure and land use.

Strong Towns Podcast – Gross Negligence

What is the problem with the roadway?

MoDOT and the City of Wildwood have partnered to come up with $5.2 million for a jointly funded project to improve the safety and flow of traffic along the portion of Route 109 from Clayton to Route 100. Route 109 in Wildwood between Route 100 and Clayton Road has a significant number of crashes along its length. Historically, it is a stretch of roadway within the city that has the most crashes each year. Many of these crashes are due to congestion or to subdivision residents attempting to turn left through cross traffic. The accident rate on this stretch of roadway is about twice that of other similar roads in Missouri.

Hwy 109 Improved

MoDOT recently “improved” 109 just to the south between Clayton Rd and MO-100, adding lanes and pimped-out roundabouts. Note no mention above of people outside of cars. Bike/ped features were included though. They are recreation-oriented and expensive. In places built for cars, enhancing safety for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists costs a lot- $5.2 million in this case. Given the sparse development pattern of the area, it likely will take longer to pay that back than the improvements will last.

Impact of speed on pedestrian deaths

Since development has been allowed along the highway it should be turned into a street. The design priority here should be to calm traffic by reducing the 85th percentile speed to 20 mph. This takes actual design changes, not a speed limit change that Wildwood recently passed reducing 109 from 45 to 40 mph. Drivers will go as fast as they are comfortable. Start with the cheapest options and increase until the goal is met.

Granted Wildwood and Rockwood School District’s inherently wasteful, insolvent, and dangerous land-use choices bare part of the blame here and deserve criticism too. However engineers know the consequences of design and can design for safety if the priority is to not kill kids. MoDOT’s priorities have been to catch the congestion dragon and to spread out our cities big and small. MoDOT is currently seeking more taxpayer support. Before giving MoDOT any more money, we must demand reform.

Update: Monday night’s report on KSDK with comment from MoDOT.

The City Fix – A New Way to Measure Road Safety That Doesn’t Wait for Crashes to Happen – Link

cities shouldn’t wait for crashes to happen in order to analyze and fix dangerous areas.

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  • Tim E

    The one thing that strikes me odd in this discussion is that the school, the school district itself and Elaine Rosi Academy responsibility are not being discussed. Surroundings change, conditions change and it appears that safety of children outside of the school was do it yourself but even that is an uninformed statement on my part.
    ..
    As Father and Step Father myself raising two children, our son’s elementary school got a rude awaking when an audit by third party slammed the school community for its unsafe conditions outside of the school itself. Especially during the morning. Simply a lot of cars, adults and kids with no meaningful prevention, infrastructure and policies put in place by the school itself. The school itself is situated off the main road at the end of the street which would favor the better planning argument, live in a city argument, however you want to state it.
    ..
    But overwhelming number of parents like myself drive our kids or carpool are kids to school. The audit didn’t lay blame on the city, the local street department or the immediate neighbors or poor planning. The audited pointed squarely pointed at the school and the parents and stated things that came real obvious real quick. Why? for one a responsibility is on the school. The other is the fact that we as drivers and parents have responsibilities also in around schools.

    My point that their is a lot to this tragedy and I believe it is a stretch to frame it in a single context as it is.

  • Pingback: Schools, Streets, and the Deadly Negligence of State DOTs | Streetsblog.net()

  • PaulSennett32

    Why do you people even live in this forsaken hell hole of a metro? RylieiSTL says “people don’t like killing children, but the don’t like even more driving slowly.” First of all…bad sentence structure…Second, People don’t like killing children?…WHAT, MS. OBVIOUS!!!! You have to make that statement? Third, kids don’t bike or walk to school anyway…why? Where I am from, 70% bike and walk all the time. This is a perfect example of why middle America is so angry. You people do really stupid things, are lazy..except in one area…You seemingly are extremely motivated to become as mediocre as possible…possibly in an attempt to hold on to that anger. It’s what defines you hillbillies.

    • HawkSTL

      Paul — do you know anything about the STL Metro area? Rockwood Sch. Dist., where this occurred, is a very good school district. Far West STL County is affluent, and the per pupil expenditure is high. What astounds me with this article and these posts is this: what appears to be driver error or a child who was not paying attention (like my kids unfortunately do too frequently) is somehow turned into a “I hate suburbs” discussion. And, people like you who live in a place “70% [of people] bike and walk all the time” come in and pile on the discussion. From this location in Far West StL County, it is 20 miles to the STL County Central business district and 30 miles to downtown STL. So, by comparison, I guess you walk and bike 40-60 miles per day roundtrip? If you do, I can almost guarantee that you are not responsible for a family of 4. Sheesh.

      • Alex Ihnen

        You’re both simply describing the suburban experience.

      • PaulSennett32

        Hawk…Your argument makes no sense. I was talking about the comment about kids not walking or biking to school. How does that equate to me doing the same? and…This has nothing to do with hating the suburbs…although in reality…that is all St, Louis is..One big ugly Wal-Mart centric suburb.

        • HawkSTL

          Really? That’s exactly how I would describe a great deal of Chicago (i.e. north of Lake-Cook Rd., Downers Grove and west). Other than worse weather, they are indistinguishable from West County. Suburbs are suburbs.

          • Chicagoan

            “Suburbs are suburbs.”

            Not always.

          • HawkSTL

            It is a scale. Cicero = Jennings. Evanston = Clayton. Northbrook = Ballwin. You say tomato, and I say tomato.

          • Chicagoan

            I’m not discussing the similarities between suburbia in Chicago and St. Louis, I mean in general. Suburbia doesn’t have to mean strip malls, subdivisions, and un-walkable environments. The contemporary idea of suburbia doesn’t have to be like this.

            Suburbia isn’t bound by law to be unfriendly to the pedestrian experience.

      • matimal

        We wouldn’t hate suburbs if suburbanites paid for them. We hate the fact that suburbs are subsidized by the rest of society. Pay for your own roads, mortgages, water, sewers, etc. and much of the criticism will stop.

        • HawkSTL

          I won’t re-state my arguments on the economics, which are below. STL County is paying for its own infrastructure. However, your “pay for your own” argument is the exact position used by the opponents of the City earnings tax . . .

          • matimal

            No one in America is paying for their own infrastructure. Where do you think a big share of our deficit comes from? The worst offenders are the most car oriented areas. This video might help you to understand.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD47xo3c7WU

          • HawkSTL

            That rationale is flawed. STL County is paying for its own infrastructure through local, county, and state taxes. The Missouri Constitution requires a balanced budget. The STL Charter mandates a balanced budget. Unless you are talking about the federal budget deficit (which is another whole ball of wax), the numbers don’t support you.

          • matimal

            The transfer of transportation spending from cities to suburbs and rural areas is THROUGH the federal budget and to a lesser degree through state government. You CAN’T exclude the federal budge deficit either. These are all part of the SAME ball of wax.

          • HawkSTL

            3% of the federal budget is spent on transportation annually. That’s not what is causing the federal deficit (which is what I meant by “another ball of wax”).

          • matimal
          • HawkSTL

            Ok — where to start? First, your statement that a “big share of our deficit comes from” suburban road building and maintenance is false. Missouri and STL County do not have deficit (and cannot legally have a deficit). The federal match on transportation funds is 3% of the budget. By comparison, 17% of federal spending funds the interest on the debt. 28% is healthcare. 26% is social security. 16% is defense. And, only a small sliver of the 3% for transportation goes to suburban road building and maintenance. So, c’mon — let’s get real. Second, federal income taxes (individual and corporate) account for 60% of all federal tax income. The same drivers in suburbia that you say are not paying for the roads? Yes, they are. The lion’s share of federal income tax comes from suburban households — you know, where the people actually live and have relative wealth to be taxed. The studies you cite only look at things like the gas tax. The same people paying the gas tax also pay income tax, payroll taxes, sales taxes, etc. To put it another way, where do you think that the 46% of Americans paying federal income tax predominantly reside? Suburbs. As pro-City, pro-density, pro-mass transit people, we can not like these facts and try to change them. But, nevertheless, studies that don’t take into account double, triple, and quadruple taxation and who is paying the bulk of those taxes, are just on an ideological mission.

          • Adam

            “To put it another way, where do you think that the 46% of Americans paying federal income tax predominantly reside? Suburbs.”

            Wait, so you’re saying that only 46% of US citizens pay federal income tax, and that the majority of them live in the suburbs? That’s a lofty claim, especially since 62.7% of Americans live in cities: https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2015/cb15-33.html. You got some numbers?

          • Adam
          • HawkSTL

            Yes, there are numbers. The census bureau defines “city” as any incorporated area. So, that includes all incorporated suburbs like Chesterfield and Wildwood.

            Percentage of paying federal income tax:
            http://www.forbes.com/sites/beltway/2015/10/06/new-estimates-of-how-many-households-pay-no-federal-income-tax/#632ac7de3cf4

            Suburbs are growing much faster than cities (not the census bureau definition, but STL County vs. City):
            http://time.com/107808/census-suburbs-grow-city-growth-slows/

            Earned income tax credits — i.e. people who pay no taxes, but get a check from the federal gov’t — go to city residents and rural residents

            Residents of large cities are more likely to claim the credits:
            http://www.ncsl.org/research/labor-and-employment/earned-income-tax-credits-for-working-families.aspx

            High number of rural recipients of earned income tax credits
            http://www.dailyyonder.com/earned-income-tax-credit-plays-outsized-role-in-rural/2015/10/26/9428/

          • STLEnginerd

            So I think its fair to say suburban peoples pay a larger total sum of money for infrastructure. There are I also think its fair to say suburban infrastructure is per capita more expensive to service and maintain than urban infrastructure. I think it is well supported in evidence that it comes down to a net subsidy for suburban development. Do you disagree?

            One thing that’s hard to contend is that if everything was developed in an urban way, that the net cost of maintenance and services would be less per acre and the net private property value and therefore property tax revenue would be higher per acre, and that is the crux of the argument. Also those wealthy suburbanites would be paying roughly the same in various taxes whether they live in an urban setting or a suburban one. Why build a highway when there is net economic benefit for people to just build more densely. Because they demand it?

          • HawkSTL

            I agree that, because it may be more expansive, suburban infrastructure can be more expensive. But going back to Hwy. 109, look at that configuration. That is not more expensive to maintain than Kingshighway, for instance (less pavement, stop lights, sewers etc. than in the City). I disagree that the suburban dwellers are being subsidized. They pay much more in taxes. When there is over a 3:1 County/City population ratio, STL County is the economic engine of the region (and the state). So, for me, having the state or counties tell a growing population that they can’t have roads, utilities, and other infrastructure because “it isn’t dense enough”? That is not democratic. I disagree with the suburbanites, but they pay for it and can have it – and the good and bad that comes with it.

          • Adam

            Re your 1st link:

            “The Tax Policy Center has updated its estimate of the percentage of households that will not pay federal income tax this year. We now figure it is 45.3 percent”

            The percentage paying is ~55%, not 46% as you claimed. And the article says nothing about where they live.

            Re your 2nd link:

            Suburbs may be growing faster but the majority of Americans still live in cities. Again, no information about who’s paying more taxes.

            Re your 3rd link:

            “Residents of large cities are more likely to claim the credits because
            it’s easier for them to find free tax assistance services. Outreach
            programs like the Rural Family Economic Success Action Network, aim to
            increase services to rural areas, targeting those who have limited or no
            free tax preparation services. Specifically, the program focuses on
            encouraging individuals in rural America to earn income, maintain
            financial assets and grow wealth.”

            Since, by your own admission, suburbs are not “rural” according to the census bureau, this has nothing to do with whether or not suburban residents pay more taxes than city residents.

            Re your 4th link:

            Again, this article says nothing about the relative taxes paid by city residents and suburbanites, and it clearly shows that rural households benefit more from EITC than their urban counterparts.

            Please explain how these links make your case that suburbanites pay more taxes than city residents? How do they make your case that urban infrastructure is more costly per capita than suburban infrastructure? How do they make your case that suburbanites are subsidizing urban infrastructure?

          • HawkSTL

            Ok — since you’re not satisfied, let’s take an analytical approach. The US Census Bureau (that you previously linked to) — the site has useful statistical info.

            Point 1:
            According to the Bureau, in City of St. Louis, “Median household income (in 2014 dollars), 2010-2014 = $34,800.” http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/

            According to the Bureau, in St. Louis County, “Median household income (in 2014 dollars), 2010-2014 = $59,520.”
            http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/29189,29510

            According to the Bureau, in St. Charles County, “Median household income (in 2014 dollars), 2010-2014 = $72,100
            http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/…/29183

            Point 2: So, using the above stats, median household income, city vs. suburbs = more than double in the suburbs vs. the city. Then you consider that the City of St. Louis makes up only just over 10% of the STL metro area (300,000 population of City vs. $2.6 million population in the rest of the metro). Simple math: 10 (10 times more people in suburbs) * 2 (double the income in suburbs) = household taxable income suburbs vs. City is roughly 20 times greater in the suburbs vs. the City in our metro area. That’s stark.

            Note: you can attempt to ratchet that down a bit by going county-by-county. But, keep in mind that places like East St. Louis are figured into the rest of St. Clair County. According to the Bureau, St. Clair County mediation income is $48,136 — still much higher than in the City. So, it still is going to be double-digits greater no matter how hard you try to knock down the order of magnitude.

            Point 3: Don’t rural areas contribute a lot to federal income taxes? Answer: Not really, because farmers receive special treatment under the tax code. 28% of farmers don’t pay a cent in income taxes. They get to depreciate everything, and, in many states do not pay sales taxes. They work hard, but they have it made:
            http://www.forbes.com/sites/leonardburman/2012/10/02/more-than-half-a-million-farmers-didnt-pay-income-tax-in-2007/#146bcb5d2682

            Point 4: According to the Bureau, the definition of city does not mean St. Louis City alone. It means all incorporated towns in the state. So, your cite to that does not assist your position that people overwhelmingly reside in cities. That Census figure includes Bowling Green, MO, for example.

            Now, do you want me to run a regression analysis for you?

          • HawkSTL

            I responded to this, but the post somehow got deleted. Curious.

            Summary: If you’re not satisfied, do an analytical approach instead. Greater St. Louis has 2.9 million people. The City has 300,000 people. That means that the City is only 10% of the metro population. Use your census figures available at

            http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/29510

            City of St. Louis median household income is $34,800. STL County is $59,520. St. Charles County is $72,100. St. Clair County, IL is $48,136. Madison County, IL is $53.912.

            Simple math = suburbs have 10 times the amount of people than City, with 15-20 times the overall income. That’s stark.

            As for rural, large swaths of rural residents don’t contribute to federal income tax. Farmers, for example, get special tax treatment. 28% don’t even pay a cent in federal income taxes. They work hard, but get to depreciate everything as a business expense. In many states, farmers also don’t pay sales taxes by statute.

            http://www.forbes.com/sites/leonardburman/2012/10/02/more-than-half-a-million-farmers-didnt-pay-income-tax-in-2007/#28db9fc26829
            The reasoning is sound. Now, fire away:)

          • Adam

            Yeah, I had already responded to the previous one and then it disappeared:

            To your point 1, median doesn’t account for the spread in incomes so the average would be a better measure. And even if the average income is higher in the STL suburbs than in the city, this doesn’t necessarily hold true for metropolitan areas in general, it doesn’t demonstrate that city infrastructure costs more per capita than suburban infrastructure, and it doesn’t demonstrate than suburbanites are subsidizing infrastructure for city residents.

            To your point 2, saying that “more people x higher income = more taxable income” is about as useful as saying that the other 49 states pay more in fed. income taxes, cumulatively, than MO. The more important statistic is per capita taxes paid, especially if you want to claim that urban infrastructure costs more per capita than suburban infrastructure (which, after all, was the impetus for this discussion).

            To your points 3 and 4, why are we still talking about rural areas? We’ve already established that they’re not part of the discussion about city vs. suburban contribution to infrastructure. I only brought them up because you posted articles about rural tax payers that have nothing to do with the discussion at hand.

            To reiterate my other two questions:

            How do they make your case that urban infrastructure is more costly per capita than suburban infrastructure? How do they make your case that suburbanites are subsidizing urban infrastructure?

          • HawkSTL

            Nice of you to put up with technical difficulties. First, I put in the rural to be comprehensive. It is a 3-legged stool — urban, suburban, and rural.
            Second, why does urban infrastructure cost more? Because utilities report it regularly (note how MSD’s infrastructure dates to the 1850s):

            http://www.mswmag.com/editorial/2013/01/bringing_it_all_together
            Third, how do we know that suburbanites subsidize the urban dwellers, and not the other way around? Easy — if you have double, triple (and in STL’s case 10 times) as many people, who have double the amount of income, it is math. The poorer areas are the ones that are subsidized (and need the subsidies).

          • rgbose

            Old infrastructure costs more, not urban. Newer infrastructure is cheaper until it gets old. Spread out places can’t cope with it as well because the land isn’t productive enough to cover the long term costs. Instead of replacing the old stuff first we’ve been fleeing it to even more spread out places. This is happening en masse in north county. It happened to the city with much encouragement from government either directly or through not reinvesting in already built places. For example a 90% federal match for building highways through the cities, little to maintain let alone modernize the transit system. Large sums of federal money to bulldoze old neighborhoods and to build housing projects, little to fix up old buildings. Large swathes of the city are now as low-yielding as the spread out places built post WWII.

            For me it’s not city v county, it’s productive enough to cover long term liabilities vs not. I’ve found downtown Krikwood is much more productive than Crestwood despite Crestwood having very high median household income. Kirkwood is in a stronger position to cope with long-term liabilities. Main Street St. Charles is much more productive than Mexico Road shopping area. When the infrastructure serving the Mexico Rd shopping area gets old the math won’t work anymore. Either subsidies will be required or it’ll be abandoned. We’ve seen a lot of both in the Stl region.

            At some point there’s too many feet of road, pipe, wire, etc for each person to realistically take care of. We try to cover it up with debt and deferred maintenance. That’s why Ferguson has $800k in debt service and $25k for sidewalk repair.

            Here’s an analysis of Lafayette LA you might check out.
            http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2015/9/14/lafayette-pipes-and-hydrants

            http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2015/5/10/lafayette

            Rockford Il and its water pipes
            http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016/1/4/no-new-pipes

          • HawkSTL

            Yes, you’ve laid out the case for why continued geographical expansion (without real population growth) is unwise and may cost more overall. I agree with you. What I disagree with from both a numbers and policy standpoint is that: 1) growing areas of the region should be deprived of basic infrastructure (convince them, but attempting to force it is undemocratic); and 2) the cost of the new infrastructure in growing areas is somehow subsidized by urban dwellers (the comparison of the number of people (urban vs. suburban) and relative income (urban vs. suburban) does not support that — in fact, it is the reverse). The relative wealthy suburbs are subsidizing the urban areas with museum taxes, city earnings tax, enterprise zones, hotel taxes, etc. Not to mention that the higher income households are disproportionately paying for social services. For the record, I support all of these things. It’s just that saying the urban dwellers subsidize the suburbs is not based on facts (without a study omitting key factors for the express purpose of making it appear that the suburbs are somehow getting a free lunch, when the overall picture shows the opposite).

          • Jack

            The child hit was walking holding the hand of her father to the dance. He too was struck and knocked down. This is CLEARLY a negligent driver!

          • matimal

            Don’t tell me, tell all the authors and organizations I linked to. THEY are purveyors of lies that you seek to stop. Gook Luck….

          • HawkSTL

            Purveyors of lies is too strong. Omitting relevant data and factors in order to derive a preconceived conclusion? Yes, that’s what they are doing.

          • matimal

            Omitting the past in which the present was created in the real omission here. Read Crabgrass Frontier by Kenneth Jackson and Building Suburbia by Dolores Hayden.

          • matimal

            Those 46 % live in suburbs because they are subsidized in doing so. Their decision to live in suburbs was not made on some level playing field in which they freely choose among equally-funded choices. They went to the suburbs because they were literally paid to do so.

          • HawkSTL

            I’m not sure what you mean by suburbanites were paid to move outward. However, many, many STL County subdivisions were built before I-270 was constructed, before I-44 was built, before Hwy. 141 became a real highway, and so on. The roads and highways were built in the STL region where the people were living and where more people continued to go, not the other way around. Missouri has a habit of building highways for the past (not current or future). By comparison, California built highways with an eye for future need.

          • matimal

            I’m sure you don’t. Read Crabgrass frontier by Kenneth Jackson and Building Suburbia by Delores Hayden and you will. No mortgage interest deduction, no free expressways, no state payments for local infrastructure, no Chesterfield. If you can’t admit that, you can’t be part of a serious and honest discussion of St. Louis, or America for that matter.

          • HawkSTL

            Thanks for the explanation. Framing a tax deduction as the “gov’t paying suburbanites” is interesting. I think it is more accurate to say the gov’t promoted home ownership by allowing wage earners to keep their own money. But, I understand your point of view.

          • matimal

            The government supported NEW SUBURBAN housing ONLY. It was called redlining.

          • HawkSTL

            Ok – redlining banking discrimination is a separate issue from whether the mortgage interest deduction was wise. The entire U.S. housing market (urban, suburban, and rural) is based on the availabity of the deduction. Just like historic preservation and renovation is largely supported by tax credits. Thx for the titles. They will be good reads.

          • rgbose

            Mapping Decline is a must read too. It’s specifically about St. Louis

          • HawkSTL

            Thanks for the title, Richard. Colin Gordon has good graphics to go along with the text.

          • matimal

            It’s not separate at all. Housing and transportation are one singular web of connections. There can’t be one without the other. No one will build or buy a house if they can’t, or can’t afford, to get to it. The value of historic perseveration credits and deductions is pocket change in comparison to the trillions spent on free expressways and transferred to suburban households through fannie mae mortgage guarantees, mortgage interest deductions, and the feds paying the bulk of highway money in the post war decades. You’re missing the forest for the trees.

          • HawkSTL

            All I’m pointing out is that the private banking discrimination that took place is separate from the government mortgage interest deduction that applies universally to the cities, suburbs, and rural areas. Discriminatory redlining, for instance, did not mean that banks refused to lend money to urban households. It meant that predominantly African-American zip codes could not get loans. That includes, by the way, historically African-American communities in STL County, not just the City.

          • matimal

            No, they weren’t separate. The Federal Housing Administration created the redlining maps and reports that both public and private housing lenders used. Private banks would have never been able to muster the resources to conduct such comprehensive inventories of the income, race, occupations, and physical conditions of all housing in all American cities. Discriminatory redlining meant precisely and exactly that “banks refused to lend money to urban households.” Neighborhoods in “poor condition” or with “conflicting uses” were not permitted to be part of federal, state, or private housing loans. New housing was expressly favored over existing housing. You couldn’t be more mistaken. Postwar policy in the U.S wasn’t just some inevitable expression of ‘the way things were’ it was a particular agenda of a specific set of interests, public and private. You have a lot to learn

          • HawkSTL

            Lots of incorrect assumptions on these posts re: “You have a lot to learn” and “in this case you simply are not informed.” The preachiness is not a good characteristic. Take your position that the mortgage interest deduction is connected to redlining banking practices in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. That is incorrect factually and legally. And, you are (I guess unintentionally, but who knows?) improperly conflating separate agencies. The mortgage interest deduction is part of the U.S. Tax Code for which the IRS is responsible. The FHA regulates the underwriting of loans under the National Housing Act as well as the Housing Act of 1937, both enacted under the New Deal after banks failed. The FHA is part of HUD. The IRS is under the Department of the Treasury. Different cabinet posts, different missions, and different legal authorities. Before you preach, please get the facts straight.

          • matimal

            You should lead by example. Preaching to others about not being preachy is ..well…I think even you get that. Describing an organizational chart of federal agencies is beside the point and in no way works to challenge what I wrote. Everything is connected to everything. Banking law and practices interact with each other. The SAME borrower has to consider the location of his house, whether he can deduct mortgage interests, access to other places, the value of neighboring houses which are ALSO affected by the SAME practices and regulations thus magnifying their effect on neighboring properties. “posts’ “missions” and “authorities” are irrelevant. It’s the actually effect of these in the real world that matter. Before you display your “facts” shows us how these are the particular facts that matter to understanding American housing please connect the dots.

          • HawkSTL

            I guess your point is facts and law be damned. Here’s the point: the IRS never used the mortgage interest deduction as a discriminatory tool or as a device to make people move to the suburbs. The deduction was available in the City, not just to suburban households. In fact, the FHA’s use of redlines (that the private banks used) was separate. Redlines existed in urban and suburban counties in areas where there were a substantial portion of African-American households. These facts are uncontested. But, who cares if you’re factually and analytically accurate? Preach on. Keep up the faith.

          • matimal

            I guess your point is that the actual physical and social reality in which we all live be damned. Nothing is separate from anything. Who cares if you actually describe the reality in which actual human beings actually live? This is not a legal question, it’s an historical, sociological, and economic one.

          • HawkSTL

            The historic communities in Kinloch, Evans Place and Meacham Park don’t matter, I suppose. They don’t fit the narrative, so ignore.

          • matimal

            The experience of the places where the other 98 percent of St. Louisers have lived is what matters.

          • HawkSTL

            Got it — “St. Louisans” BTW

          • matimal

            Here’s the point, it doesn’t matter what the INTENTION of the IRS was, it’s the actual real world effect. What people intend and what happens ARE two separate things. I’m describing what has actually and really happened. How close or far that is from what people imagined in the past is another matter entirely. The suburban industrial complex was a massive, revolutionary, and unprecedented transfer of wealth and material resources from where they had been created to new places where the had NOT been created. That is the FACT at the center of this, not an encyclopedic reference to organizational structures of federal agencies. We live in forests not between trees.

          • matimal
          • matimal
          • matimal
    • Justin

      For one who hates St. Louis so much you sure seem to read a fair amount of articles about it.

      I’m curious as to why you are so bitter.

      One positive thing I can say about this city is I won’t be living next to you.

      • Chicagoan

        Don’t feed the troll.

        • Justin

          Its okay. I don’t think he’s hungry.

      • PaulSennett32

        Justin,
        I am not bitter, just critical of the way St. Louisan’s are in denial about who they are. It could be a great city…but…well it’s not.

        Let me ask you this. If you had a chance to live anywhere in the country…would you live in St. Louis…or Missouri for that matter? If not then why are you there? If so, then it really doesn’t matter what I think. As long as you are happy…great..It isn’t my cup of tea…
        I like more energy and prosperous metropolitan areas. I want vitality and robustious economic wealth and I found it. It is interesting how many Missourians I have met out here that fled for the same reasons I did.

        • Adam

          “Let me ask you this. If you had a chance to live anywhere in the country…would you live in St. Louis…or Missouri for that matter?”

          Yep.

          Let me ask you: if you’re so happy in your new energetic and prosperous metropolitan area why are you wasting time here trying to convince us that St. Louis is so terrible? Shouldn’t you be out being vital and wealthy and just so totally engrossed in your amazing new home? It’s interesting how many people I’ve met who have moved back to St. Louis after living elsewhere and realizing just how much they took it for granted.

          • Chicagoan

            Answer: He’s not happy and he likely doesn’t live where he says he does (Wherever that is.).

  • Alex Ihnen

    The idea that nothing can be done, or that suburbs are just suburbs, or that criticism of the built environment is unfair amounts to a steaming pile of ¯_(ツ)_/¯. Surely people being killed deserve more.

  • RyleyinSTL

    Speed kills. Why build a school on a highway when there are a vast number of towns near by? None of these kids walk or bike to school anyway.

    People don’t like killing children but what they don’t like even more is driving slowly.

    • HawkSTL

      Again, this is tragic. The circumstances are not explained, so we are left to speculate. However, I will say this: I went to elementary school on a busy 4-lane road with a 40 mph speed limit and no crosswalks. My parents always told me NEVER to walk on that road or to walk to school because of the obvious safety concern. And, I never did. During the 6 years I attended that school and the 4 additional years my sister attended it, no children were hit by cars. So, it is easy to generalize and push a point of view on an isolated incident.

      • rgbose

        It’s not isolated. It’s a systematic predictable failure of policy and misallocation of resources.

        • HawkSTL

          Yes, you can cite other examples over the past 10 years. But, does Christian County, MO = STL County, MO = City of St. Louis, MO? The relevant inquiry is whether children and pedestrians have been hit in this location on Hwy 109. What are the statistics? That is how one should assess the risks.

          • Alex Ihnen

            The statistics are that almost 1,000 people will die on Missouri roads this year. If people drove less, if we built places where people could drive less, if we built places that better accommodated bikes and pedestrians, fewer people would die.

          • HawkSTL

            There isn’t a demand for that in Wildwood. People move out there specifically to have more space and to get away from people (while being close enough to get to work, go shopping, and go to ballgames). What you are describing is a city and inner-ring suburb experience, which is where the demand lies. Trying to say what works around the Grove should be what works in the area around Babler State Park is not recognizing the very different aspects of the locations.

          • Alex Ihnen

            So your argument is that what we have was/is market-driven and so the people who are killed are just part of that and there’s simply no way to make it better?

          • HawkSTL

            No, my point is an isolated “left turn out of a parking lot onto a major street” accident ≠ suburban planning is “poor.” How many pedestrians on Hwy 109 have been hit? Many times, things turn out to be simply statistical anomalies. And, that gets to my greater point. This article overreaches. You can be pro-density, pro-bike, pro-walking, pro-mass transit, etc. But, to attempt to buttress your position and goals by using the death of a 7 yr. old in far flung West STL County? I’m sorry, that is poor in substance and poor in taste.

          • STLEnginerd

            I think the your statement should be “left turn out of a parking lot onto a major street” DOESN’T NECESSARILY EQUAL suburban planning is “poor”. It may well have been a contributing factor.
            – For instance cars travel fast and roads are wider. In order to clear the intersection the driver very likely was going faster than one might turning onto a street with slower traffic.

            – Another likely connection is that the expectation of no pedestrian teaches driver not to watch for pedestrians. So the driver is surprised to find one has crossed in front of them.
            – How about the fact that traffic moves faster, so the driver is probably accelerating much faster and thus giving themselves less time to brake, and increasing the likelihood that any crash will result in a fatality.

            You are right though, citing an incident such as this a result of poor urban planning when all the facts are not clear especially so closely following a tragic incident, is probably in bad taste. The hazards of “stroads” is IMHO well supported in fact, but this tragic incident, which is the foundation on which he built this argument may or may not have a direct causal relationship. As fact become more clear they may damage what is a pretty irrefutable statistical argument if the details don’t support the case he laid out.

            Sort of the urban planning equivalent of Micheal Brown.

          • Adam

            I see. Sort of like how it’s in poor taste to talk about gun control every time somebody gets shot… so that there’s conveniently never an appropriate time to talk about it. Please. I really don’t see how it’s in poor taste to advocate for a safe pedestrian environment after a child gets hit by a car. It seems to me more cynical and selfish to pretend like you’re offended by the conversation.

          • HawkSTL

            Pointing to safety of the intersection, asking about driver error, talking lack of school action to provide cross guards? Those are worthy discussions. But, being so wed to the “suburbs are bad” position to raise it and connect it to this accident? Yes, that’s in poor taste. It is dogma and weakens the entire argument. If you can’t see that, you’re willfully part of the dogma.

          • JZ71

            And if we mechanically or electronically limited vehicle speeds to 15 mph, we “could” prevent 90% of the “carnage”. Life is full of choices, and over the last century, the current speed limits have evolved, balancing the majority’s desire for speed with their desire for safety. This crash could have (and has!) happened just as easily in the CWE, Soulard ot the Grove – inattention and impatience are NOT just suburban “problems”.

          • rgbose

            Lead paint is dangerous. We don’t have to paint another building with it to find that out.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Sounds like an unfortunate experience. It makes me wonder how many children were involved in car wrecks.

        • HawkSTL

          It was a great school and environment in which to grow up. I can only hope that my City kids have it as good as I did.

  • citylover

    This is kind of off topic but I wish modot would stop expanding. I don’t understand the need to add more landes west of 270 on 40. And why keep making improvements to 141 when it is fine how it is? Maintain and Focus on repairs. I want metrolink, transit, and bicycle funding–not another exit lane on the freeway

    • JZ71

      MODOT is funded by taxes from across the state, so it needs to spend money on projects across the state. Just like how “all politics are local”, all highway projects have their constituencies – what is unimportant to you (“west of 270 on 40”) IS important to the many drivers who drive a stretch of highway every day (and vice versa). The need to improve 141 comes from trying to keep up with increasing travel demands along that corridor, driven by growth in Jefferson Conty (and funnelled over the only bridge across the Meramec River between 270 and Eureka – SH 109 [the site of the recent fatal accident] is the next north-south route west of 141.) You may “want metrolink, transit and bicycle funding”, but there are far more drivers out there paying far more in fuel taxes (and voting) that have other, more pragmatic, priorities!

      • Alex Ihnen

        This just completely ignores the impact of expanding roadways. Residents and businesses have followed these projects for decades. Do people “want” more highways? They think they do, sure. What has been the effect of more highways? People spend more time in their cars. If the argument is that MoDOT is spending money on expansion because that’s what some people want, that’s correct. That doesn’t mean it *should being doing it. In fact, some cities/regions are starting to realize the negative impacts such development brings. And all that not to mention that drivers do not pay the cost of their driving.

      • Justin

        Since MODOT has no money is building more roads there really a priority? Its not like traffic is really that bad out there anyway.

        Additionally, since we are see little to no regional growth why do we need new roads in the first place?
        Seems they should save some money for maintaining what they have already built.

  • HawkSTL

    Richard — foremost, the death of a young child is tragic. The car hitting the child was making a left turn out of a parking lot. That can happen in the city, suburbs, exurbs, and rural areas — the location doesn’t matter. But, then you leap to “Wildwood and Rockwood School District’s inherently wasteful, insolvent, and dangerous land-use choices bare part of the blame here and deserve criticism too. However engineers know the consequences of design and can design for safety if the priority is to not kill kids.” You’ve lost me there. Hwy. 109 is an old country 2-lane road, in a hilly environment, that has become a major north/south thoroughfare in the past 25 years. Can Wildwood, STL County, and MoDOT make Hwy. 109 safer? Yes. But, does a slow, cross-walk filled City pedestrian-style roadway environment make sense in far flung West County? No. That makes no sense at all. Traffic needs to move out there–and that’s what you expect if you move out to far flung West County.

    • rgbose

      That’s my point about it turning into a stroad. If 109 is meant to move cars between places safely at great speeds than they shouldn’t allow development along it.

      If they’re going to develop along it and want it to be safe for people outside of cars then they have to slow it down.

      • HawkSTL

        Then, to be consistent, you would need to be against any schools on major roads. No schools on Hampton, Kingshighway, Gravois, Olive, Page, Halls Ferry, Watson, Manchester, Lindbergh, etc. Put all the buses on residential streets to get to school and off the main drags. Sure, that would be popular. In reality, that exact position gets people really fired up at school board meetings.

        • rgbose

          No inconsistency here. Several authors here including have criticized the stroad environments shoe-horned into the traditionally-built areas like the ones you mentioned. Not only for their inherent danger, but their economic unsustainability.

          I haven’t done an exhaustive accounting, but I suspect most of the schools built in traditional areas were meant to serve neighborhoods and to be walked to. There are probably a few that were on streets now turned into straods. The schools in my neighborhood are within the neighborhood and meant to be walked to. Due to the spreading out of the region and breaking up of the street grid, many buses must pass by my house on a neighborhood street to reach the nearby school.

          • HawkSTL

            I grew up in STL County and have lived much of my adult life in the City. Here is a survey of th placement of schools in major suburban school districts: in Ferguson-Florrisant, Hazelwood, Pattonville, Parkway, Rockwood, Lindbergh, Mehlville, and Fox (i.e. The areas that are true suburbs that developed post WWII (not the Kirkwood pre-existing town model)) the schools are on or adjacent to major roads. Kids take the bus and don’t walk to school (or now parents drive them). So, basically, you are criticizing suburbs for being suburbs. But, I’d argue that cities should be cities and suburbs should be suburbs. People should be able to choose what they want. One size does not fit all. And, I choose the City. But, my colleague who chooses the suburbs instead? Great – I’m glad that he/she likes it there. To each their own.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Perhaps to each their own if “their own” is economically sustainable and doesn’t require big subsidies from the rest of the taxpayers? The costs of suburban development have largely been hidden by socialized support for ever more highways and big box retail. Incentives (state, federal, and bank polices) have long favored building new and more over investing in the existing build environment. So I’m sort of with you if each person actually paid the cost of their preference. The fact is, they don’t. Perhaps it’s the case that wealthy suburbs (and suburbanites) can happily pay this cost, but today they aren’t.

          • HawkSTL

            STL County has 1 million people (17% of the state). The City has 300,000 (5% of the state). Given that STL County is over 3 times as large as the City and relative wealth per household, who is subsidizing who? I think you have it precisely backwards.

          • Alex Ihnen

            I don’t mean to be rude, but in this case you simply are not informed. The County has a little more than 3x the population. It is also spread out across almost 10x more land. It costs more to supply services to suburban areas. That is simply a fact. This isn’t as simple as City v. County.

            There’s a whole body of literature and information out there about the costs of different development patters, the return on investment, etc. I enjoy conversations about these topics, but to be informative they have to use real, contextual information that adds to our knowledge of the topic.

          • HawkSTL

            Alex — beginning a post by saying that the other is “uninformed” is itself uninformed. My professional work explores this very topic (and I have a doctorate to boot). So, you should be careful when you make assumptions. The 10x more land in STL County is not a valid statistic. A significant portion of STL County is still undeveloped flood plain or farmland. Citing general literature on costs does not mean that it costs more to provide services in STL suburbs. It is actually the opposite here. MSD’s boundaries do not include portions of STL County. There are still brick-lined sewers in the City and inner-ring suburbs that cost MSD much more to maintain and keep going than in most of STL County. The City and Missouri American Water have plants on the Missouri River in STL County (meaning the City actually serves residents with water far from the customer in some cases, as compared to STL County). Unless a statistic takes those fundamentals into account, it is invalid. The numbers are only as good as the assumptions.

          • Adam

            “Citing general literature on costs does not mean that it costs more to provide services in STL suburbs.”

            What? So are you saying that the literature doesn’t show this, or that the literature is incorrect? Either way, it seems the burden of proof rests no less on you than it does on Alex.

            “A significant portion of STL County is still undeveloped flood plain or farmland (or expansive parkland).”

            Exactly. And so every time new infrastructure is built to serve some new exurban community, it must be built across these expansive, undeveloped farmlands and floodplains in order to connect these communities to existing ones. That necessitates many times the infrastructure to serve the same number of people as would be served by less infrastructure consolidated in a smaller area in an urban environment. MoDOT’s struggle to maintain our overbuilt, underused highways and bridges is a perfect case in point.

            “My professional work explores this very topic (and I have a doctorate to boot).”

            Can you be more specific? I’m a little skeptical when people claim expertise without giving any details.

          • HawkSTL

            You seem to be missing the point. Alex cites 10x the amount of land in STL County as compared to the City to support the notion that it costs more to service a population of 1 million across that acreage. But, the 10x figure is a misnomer. Almost 1/3 of that land is undeveloped. So, the STL County suburban population is actually spread out over a lot less area. In terms of credentials, like Alex, I graduated from a top-20 Big Ten program.

          • Chicagoan

            I’m just not sure that citing your education does much for you. I’ve met brilliant people with nothing more than a high school diploma and I’ve met clueless people with a doctorate. Citing your education just doesn’t further validate your points, especially in an anonymous situation such as this.

            This makes me think of the “How do you like them apples?” scene from Good Will Hunting.

            Also, I really don’t think being a St. Louis native does anything for you. Often times, I’d rather seek counsel from an outsider before having a discussion with somebody more closely tied.

          • HawkSTL

            The moderator and contributors have been a little defensive here (“I don’t mean to be rude, but in this case you simply are not informed.” “Can you be more specific? I’m a little skeptical when people claim expertise without giving any details”). Just answering questions. As far as being a native, that matters when talking about a specific intersection. Many on this site are newcomers, never lived in STL County, and think that it is inherently awful to live off of Hwy. 109. Seeking counsel from those in the latter categories is clearly problematic.

          • rgbose
          • HawkSTL

            Thanks for the link. I have been to father-daughter dances like that one in the city. It hits home. Not too long ago, I decided to drive my daughter to the school dance. One of the factors was the speed at which drivers move on Kingshighway.

          • Alex Ihnen

            I think you’re trying to have a different conversation. To me, the issue isn’t a specific intersection. And the numbers used to show that more people live in STL County than STL City? Not relevant. That’s all. With many, if not most, message boards, people like to have their own conversation. Here, I’d argue, the conversation is driven by the moderator (me) and the author. People are free to make tangential points, or add their own arguments, or talk about something else completely, but doing so often fails to advance our knowledge (though some of your comments certainly do that) or add to a interesting exchange. Just my take.

          • Adam

            1/3 undeveloped? okay then 6.666…x instead of 10x. You’re nitpicking. But what about the space between the developed pockets, and between the developed 2/3 and the farther-out exurbs? All those spaces have to be filled with infrastructure to move cars, water, sewage, and electricity. That’s the point you seem to be missing and/or ignoring: more infrastructure serving fewer people.

            Oh, and I’m a St. Louis native (also with a Ph.D.) who grew up in Fenton and went to elementary school and high school in the city, and then lived and worked in the city. And, like your Big Ten education, none of that’s relevant to this discussion, unless of course you studied civil engineering or urban planning or something that actually matters in this context.

          • HawkSTL

            Again, simply responding to a comment about “you simply are not informed.” Beware the assumptions. Being someone from Fenton, you should feel for the people along Hwy. 109 (if old enough). Hwy. 141 through Valley Park and around Parkway Central 20 plus years ago was the exact same as Hwy. 109 is now. Same type of traffic, and same concerns.

          • Adam

            I am indeed old enough. And, yep, 141 is now basically a highway. But with the exception of the few who have lived out there since before the 80’s housing explosion, and with the exception of the kids who don’t have a choice, why should I feel for them? Like you said, different strokes for different folks. They made their beds.

          • Alex Ihnen

            This conversation is devolving quickly. You can have the last word if you insist, but I’ll likely pause this convo soon.

            A road or pipe 1mi long serving 10 homes is more expensive than the same serving 100 homes. It just is. Whether or not that pipe is yet old and needs to be replaced is another thing. Proposing the opposite is like saying heating 10 homes is cheaper than heating a 10-unit apartment building because the apartment building has an old boiler. I guess that would make the point factual, but still not insightful or particularly relevant.

            You made the point that the county has more people than the city and with a higher average wealth (and income, I guess), and then concluded that county residents are subsidizing city residents. That’s simply not an assertion that can be taken seriously. I guess I took the bait by responding with numbers of my own that are admittedly estimates with many and big assumptions. I should have just let it go.

          • HawkSTL

            Thanks for the post Alex. Not only is there old infrastructure in STL, there is more of it. For example, MSD has the 4th largest system in the U.S. despite servicing only 45% of the 20th largest market. A large share of that cost is in the urban core. So, that cost is relevant to determine who is paying for what. Have a good evening, and thanks again for the discussion.

          • rgbose

            MSD also has 1/2 of its miles of stormwater infrastructure serving 1/4 of the people in the spread out areas that had next to nothing for maintenance. until Prop S, which subsidizes spread out development patterns by taxing property value instead of impervious surfaces, was passed.

            Gov’t policies encouraged, subsidized, and mandated building on the edges in a spread out manner that isn’t productive enough to cover the long term infrastructure liabilities using the wealth of already-built places rather than replace the old stuff in the productive areas. The forces at work on the edges have also shoehorned the same approach in the traditionally-built places. For example tearing down 29 apt buildings for the gov’t-run free parking entitlement program behind Cicero’s in the Loop. Conveniently the loss of housing there and elsewhere helped fill the new housing being built on the edges. Now if those folks want to enjoy the Loop their only practical option is to drive, made all that easier by the “free” parking. To support this we have to turn Olive, Big Bend, Delmar, etc into stroads, making it less safe for people utilizing other modes, which encourages more driving. See how the cycle perpetuates? Those same forces are now also at work emptying out St. Louis County for St. Charles County and JeffCo.

          • rgbose

            Here’s a great example of a low-productivity area unable to cope when its infrastructure goes bad in an unincorporated neighborhood near Mankato MN. We have large swaths of development already at this stage and more on they way.

            http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016/1/16/this-isnt-an-annexation-its-a-bailout

          • Adam

            First, we can see when you up-vote yourself, Mr. Hawk.

            Second, if MSD services 45% of the STL market, and the city comprises only 10% of said market, then 78% of MSD’s clients reside in the county. As was said before, 1 mile of pipe in a more densely populated area serves more people than 1 mile of pipe in a less densely populated area. Thus to serve the same number of people in a less densely populated area (as is the case in STL county) requires more miles of pipe. I highly doubt there is “more of it” in the urban core but, again, perhaps you could actually provide some evidence to back up your claims.

          • HawkSTL

            2.92 million people live in the STL region. 2.45 million live on MO side. MSD services close to 1.2 million. Go look at MSD fact sheets on-line regarding the amount of infrastructure it has given the population size (there are a lot of them given the EPA litigation and recent election to fund the settlement). Those are just simple statistics. The Up-vote was a mistake while cursor hovering. Sorry.

          • Adam

            AGAIN, we’re not talking about total population. We’re talking about the amount of infrastructure per capita and the distribution of that infrastructure. Perhaps you could point me to a fact sheet that breaks that down.

          • HawkSTL

            The utilities all have maps of their STL infrastructure. You’d be amazed at the concentration of it in the City vs. outside of it. I’ll see if I can find public links.

          • DCWind

            “Cities should be cities and suburbs should be suburbs.” I can agree with this idea, but the the issue here is cost & safety.

            First, all citizens of a region are on the hook for the costs of transportation. Since those that live in the suburbs use the regional transportation infrastructure more on a daily basis and on a per mile/per trip basis, suburbanites should pay an equitably higher percentage of the transportation bill (see the infographic that Alex showed). Sadly, this isn’t the case. St. Louis is unique in that our city/county divide alters the overall regional viability of comprehensive transportation initiatives because of all of the municipalities with their plates at the table. it is precisely these regional policies that should treat the decision to live further from the urban core accordingly. This is not an argument meant to disparage suburban living. While it definitely is not for me, many people choose this and I believe that a city needs its suburbs. However, the issues that are currently plaguing MSD, MODOT, STLCO, etc have little to nothing to do with the city and those of us that call it home. It has everything to do with planning, development and allocation decisions that have been made over the past several decades that subsidize suburban sprawl. Utility lines, transportation routes, and all governmental services are getting stretched over larger and larger boundaries. With this expansion, a corresponding expansion of cost is appropriate and long overdue.

            Second, safety is also a regional issue. No one here will argue that a child getting struck and killed by a car is a tragedy, so let’s put that to rest. It is also a tragedy when a couple gets struck and killed in Wellston or a Blues fan gets struck and killed after a game in the city. Putting people in close proximity to vehicular traffic will always pose inherent dangers to pedestrians. What RGBose is saying is that a stroad (such as all of those you mentioned) tries to effectively carry large amounts of traffic and relatively high speeds AND support extensive pedestrian use. The safety issue is that “stroads” fail miserably at both as the measures used to accommodate pedestrians will snarl traffic, while the measures used to enhance traffic throughput will eliminate pedestrian use (among many other reasons for both). There has been success, however, in supporting high traffic demands (not speed) while integrating strong pedestrian presence. South Grand Ave used to be a significantly “faster” street to traverse from SLU to Gravois. The traffic calming measures have definitely altered the traffic flow, increasing rush hour congestion, but a relatively high volume of traffic still effectively uses Grand. At the same time, the continued redevelopment of Shaw & Tower Grove South have introduced an influx of pedestrian demands on South Grand that have also been adequately handled. Slightly thinner lanes, plantings at corners, street parking and lights/crosswalks at every intersection have helped the pedestrian experience. There is certainly room for improvement in both the city and the county, and boulevards/avenues (such as Kingshighway, Manchester, & Lindbergh) will always remain necessarily “traffic first.” It is the responsibility of developers, designers and engineers to conceive of ways to keep traffic flowing and keep those that walk/bike/run safe and comfortable. While the city isn’t perfect, it certainly does a better job of handling the two as equal parts. The suburbs, however, greatly favor the vehicle at the severe detriment to the pedestrian.

        • Alex Ihnen

          This was/in and issue in Maplewood where students have been hit by cars at Manchester/Big Bend. The city has allowed that intersection to become more and more car-oriented. The latest development – the demolition of a building that was built to the sidewalk with a QuikTrip gas station – was opposed by many and had made the intersection less safe.

    • Alex Ihnen

      “But, does a slow, cross-walk filled City pedestrian-style roadway environment make sense in far flung West County? No. That makes no sense at all. Traffic needs to move out there–and that’s what you expect if you move out to far flung West County.”

      That kind of sums up the problem in my mind.

      • HawkSTL

        The problem is putting a city point of view to a common problem and applying it to an outer suburb that still has a lot of rural areas. Again, look at the facts here. Car makes left turn from a parking lot into a busy road. That is not exclusive to a Hwy. 109 problem. But, sure, let’s blame all things on suburban planning and suburbanites. I’m pro-City, but the argument here is extremely weak and only shows bias.