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What Should Be: Open Waterman Boulevard at DeBaliviere Avenue

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loop-closed-streets-pershing-at-debaliviere{The area is infested with blockages}

waterman-at-debaliviere-10-12-2016

The closure of Pershing at DeBaliviere, and the long detour around it, demonstrates how vulnerable the street network has become due to the trend of breaking up the grid to form a hierarchical street network.

Almost every day the hierarchical network fails us. It is vulnerable to single points of failure, unable to cope to stresses such as car wrecks and downed trees. It’s fragility contributes to NIMBYism as opposition often cites traffic concerns.

In a street grid when a street is blocked unexpectedly, an alternative is just a block away. Whereas in the hierarchical network an alternative could add miles of distance and may not be able to absorb the added traffic load. Follow KMOX traffic reporter Rodger Brand’s Twitter feed for the rundown of the daily carnage on our streets and roads.

emergency-response-made-longer-due-to-street-blockages{Kingsbury is also blocked at DeBalviere. The very close fire station is much further away because of it.}

Now Pershing is closed for 10 days due to trolley construction. We can prepare for this closure, but it could be closed unexpectedly due to a car wreck, water main break, etc. We should have taken the opportunity of the rebuild of DeBaliviere to reopen Waterman. This would have better connected the two neighborhoods straddling DeBaliviere, relieved traffic on Pershing, reduced vehicle miles traveled, hastened EMS response, and made our street network more resilient. What are we so afraid of? #healthegrid

clara-gate-open{The gate on Clara near Delmar is open. Apparently the negatives of blocked access now trump the fears of crime and through traffic.}

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  • Alex Ihnen

    If anyone’s listening (HawkSTL, Riggle), let’s make this conversation more informative (and not just anecdotes) and less acrimonious. Please. This site exists for informative, interesting conversations, not back-and-forth accusations and flame-throwing, no matter how convinced one is his/her thoughts are correct.

  • rgbose

    The gate on Clara at Delmar is open. Let’s see if the world ends.

  • Framer

    IMO, the first intersection that we need to re-open is Des Peres and Delmar.

  • David Hoffman

    It seems to me that completely opening the grid would disperse traffic enough that there would be much less traffic everywhere. I really think, for the people who live in the CWE mansions, it’s not about traffic, but about WHO you keep out.

  • HawkSTL

    Does anyone know where the detour goes? Clara is blocked at Delmar. There are no detour signs once you turn onto Clara from Pershing. It appears to be a detour into multiple dead-ends. Richard is 100% correct on this one.

    • rgbose

      The WB #1 is going through the park from Union to DeB and EB is using FPP. Only access is from Union.

  • Paul

    I bought a place on Clara because the streets are quiet and there is no Delmar (or Debalevire) traffic going through the neighborhood. So be considerate of all view points and understand what causes the congestion. It is the cars in addition to the buses and the future trolley.

    • Riggle

      What a stupid reason to buy, no wonder that neighborhood has no street life or retail, bunch of suburban car slaves stuck in the 80s. Enjoy driving to brentwood to shop/exist

      • Paul

        …and opening the street will bring retail, because? I want to see which restaurant will open at the intersection of Debalevire and Waterman. Talaynas? or maybe a nice AG Goldschmied store. yeah, exactly…

        • Riggle

          No, but driving out to the county to go shopping is exactly why you have no retail. And your attitude about people waiting for a bus makes it pretty clear what kind of person you are. Car slaves who drive to the County for everything aren’t exactly “choice” residents for the City, but atleast you pay the earnings tax, I guess.

          • Paul

            Bringing retail to the area has to do with economics and not the infrastructure of the area. The infrastructure is great. You need to rephrase your argument or come up with better support.

          • Riggle

            People with money live there but don’t shop there. Part of the reason is they drive everywhere so its not much effort to go out to the big boxes of Brentwood. If you took transit and walked you would need to shop locally. Try keeping your money in your neighborhood, or at least the City.

          • Adam

            “Bringing retail to the area has to do with economics and not the infrastructure of the area.”

            Paul, this is completely untrue. Retail has everything to do with infrastructure. That’s why malls and big box stores get built next to highways. That’s why, in a city that destroyed itself with highways and Schoemehl pots and discourages every form of transportation other than driving (i.e. St. Louis), there are few neighborhood-scaled commercial districts as compared to other cities. Take a look at this WaPo story:

            https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/04/26/what-your-city-looks-like-when-nearly-every-store-is-mapped/

            It’s pretty damning.

          • gmichaud

            Great link, thanks, a few people complain in the comments about the St Louis map, however the number of retail in St. Louis has declined. I have a copy of the I think it is the 1956 master plan for St. Louis that I have to dig out which has a map of St. Louis in the 50’s and the dispersal of storefronts all over the city. There is also a map in the plan that proposes eliminating most of those storefronts for centralized shopping districts, which is basically what happened. In other words the decline of the storefronts comes from self inflicted policy on many fronts that continues until today.

          • Adam

            “In other words the decline of the storefronts comes from self inflicted policy on many fronts that continues until today.”

            I think that depends on whether or not that policy was actually implemented. No doubt policy played a role, but I think it had more to do with the interstates and policies that favored suburban over urban housing development. Maybe those policies also subsidized suburban malls, though. The thing is, those policies affected the entire US but St. Louis suffered more damage than most other cities. Take Baltimore, for example. Baltimore did not allow highways to dissect its neighborhoods. Today Baltimore suffers from many of the same afflictions as St. Louis, but it is substantially more dense—both commercially and in terms of population—than St. Louis. IMO one of St. Louis’ biggest problems is that, ultimately, car infrastructure creates environments that repel people, and St. Louis is riddled with it.

          • Paul

            Specifically, the infrastructure of the neighborhood is sufficient. You’re going off on a tangent. It is quite obvious that infrastructure falls under the umbrella of economic factors. The infrastructure of the Debalevire neighborhood is not the factor that keeps restaurants/retail out. There are plenty of closed streets in the Central West End and economic activity there is thriving.

      • Paul

        oh, and you want street life? Go hangout at the metrolink station, that will give you plenty of street life to deal with.

        • tbatts666

          I wonder what kind of street life you are referring to.

          • Riggle

            “Urban Americans”

      • Presbyterian

        I’ve lived in the neighborhood since 1997 and just bought a condo on Waterman. I would describe the neighborhood very differently. But I would love to see my street opened up onto DeBaliviere.

        • Riggle

          Go on…

    • rgbose

      Regarding congestion, that’s my point that the blockages worsen congestion by forcing people to drive further. They also want to drive faster because they have all that further to go.

  • Joe

    Appreciate the motive behind the heal the grid idea but I don’t think that this is the best example. The benefits of the greenway / trolley in my opinion will have a much greater impact than opening Waterman or Kingsbury. Also, the majority of street closures shown on the southeast corner of that map are due to private streets.

    • raccoozie

      I’m sure that they weren’t always private. They shouldn’t have been allowed to be made private.

      • Joe

        No not always but it looks like they have been since around 1900.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_place

        • HawkSTL

          Most of the private streets in the CWE have always been private since their founding in the 1890s or 1900s. There are a handful of exceptions such as Waterman Place (between Belt and Union) and Pershing (east Kingshighway). The exceptions became private when the neighborhood was declining and borrowed the idea from surrounding streets that had more control over access and traffic. But, the flip side is that those private streets pay quite a bit to maintain the roads and monuments and pay for additional security patrols.

      • Presbyterian

        Washington Terrace and Kingsbury Place were built as private places. I’m not sure about Waterman Place, which is the block of Waterman between Belt and Union. I didn’t see that blockage on the map.

  • Michael C

    I live in DeBaliviere Place neighborhood. It is a beautiful neighborhood and it is growing with many apartment complexes going up. I love living here. There are nice restaurants and wonderful cafes, etc. But, I agree, we desperately need to open the streets. There are just way to many closures and it’s difficult for me to drive through MY OWN neighborhood.

    • Riggle

      Get outta your CAR!

      • John

        Be realistic. We live in an automobile-centric society. Walkable neighborhoods are equally important; however, driving is a fact of life for most.

        I agree, though, that the street grid should not be blocked.

        • Riggle

          Equally important to what? Car slavery? The physical and intellectual sloth that leads the sheeple to drive everywhere all the time when there is no need, like in this transit rich neighborhood? The continued degradation and elimination of actually walkable areas in of the few remaining urban places in the state of Missouri?

          • raccoozie

            Funny thing is that I’ve heard you can’t even walk through a lot of the neighborhoods shown above. They are “private” and have hired security that patrol and kick out undesirables. Its like a private compound for the 1% back in there.

          • Riggle

            Oh so true. Its walking distance to CWE and Loop biz districts, but they have made it impossible to do the thing that SHOULD be a neighborhood selling point.

          • HawkSTL

            It’s not true that you cannot freely walk on almost all of the CWE streets. The two exceptions are Westmoreland and Portland Places, which are truly mansions. Security does stop you there. Otherwise, you can walk anywhere else. It may be gated for vehicles (and sometimes for pedestrians on one side, such as Belt or Clara), but that is not to stop traffic altogether. It is to prevent cut-throughs and gawkers when there are a lot of children on bikes. The demographics in the neighborhood have really changed in the last 20 yrs. – many more families with young kids.

          • Riggle

            Keep defending this crap. See where it gets you

          • HawkSTL

            I’ve lived on public and private city streets. The median property value on the private streets is higher. It’s safer for kids to walk and play (which is why we moved to our current location, which has been private since the 1890s). I didn’t make that decision pre-children. We still miss that old location on the public street. But, that was then and this is now. A residential garage on the public street just down the road from us was recently hit by a stolen car. Sorry, but that is incompatible with kids on bikes of any sort – especially on tricycles and training wheels, which is prevalent near us. Life gives you these decisions, and your answer often changes based on where you currently stand.

          • HawkSTL

            The longer explanation is below. The short version is that I have a great spot for my kids to grow up and thrive, and my property value is stable and rising. I’m good with where it’s gotten me.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Yes, the history of abandonment/development in St. Louis is the history of personal victories and community loss.

          • HawkSTL

            I agree that is true in some cases, but it is not universal. Many of the historic residential architecture survived in STL due to the prevalence of private streets. Houses would have been torn down without them. So, in those many instances, there were personal and community victories. The private places were never on the grid and always were closed to through traffic. As far as the newer street barriers, there are too many. The city has taken upon itself to enact closures on public streets. That is a separate issue. Public streets should be public and through for the most part because they are not private and never were. That is the difference.

          • HawkSTL

            You seem to like judging others’ decisions. Let me point out a few things. If you don’t want or need a car, that is great. I support you 100%. But, it is apparent that you don’t have a job that demands that you have frequent offsite meetings, have to work until 2:00 a.m. to meet deadlines (when there is no public transit available), and have other professional responsibilities that necessitate owning a car. It is also apparent that you don’t need to attend school programs in the middle of the day, sports practices and games (which, yes, require you to go all over the Metro area — they’re called away games), and doctor’s appointments (it’s amazing how many doctors wish to be at major intersections like 40 and 270). So, if you’ve found your utopia, fantastic. The rest of us are still getting by day-by-day to do our jobs, pay taxes, and raise our families. That requires a car in most cases.

          • Riggle

            No, it doesn’t, you made a choice. Its that simple

          • HawkSTL

            If you wish to live in an alternate universe from John, me, and the rest of the population, again, I have no problem with that.

          • Riggle

            Enjoy suburbia, I’ll be living in the City and taking transit. Like thousands of others in this City, guess we all live in an alternate universe, I’ll be glad to stay in it, leave me out of your highway world

          • HawkSTL

            I live in the City. The disappointing thing is that I still need to take the highway to work even though I also work in the City. If I take the City streets now, as opposed to 10 yrs. ago, I have an extra 20 mins. per day on my commute. That equals 5200 extra minutes per year, or an extra 5 days of commuting. That’s the equivalent of a decent vacation. If I take MetroLink, the walk time to the station adds another 15-20 mints. That would be the equivalent of a 2-week vacation. So, I’ll take the highway (even though I’d prefer not to do so) because, well, duh.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Why not move right next to work? That would probably add another couple weeks vacation! 🙂

          • HawkSTL

            Yes, that would be great. But, like you, I have kids. So, moving closer to the office, would just cause the reverse commute (although it would be against traffic, so that would shave off a few minutes). I liked my non-highway commute 10 yrs. ago. I’m not sure why the City wishes to continue to reduce lanes and cut the speed limits, when all that does is force traffic onto the highways.

          • Riggle

            They did that because streets need to be designed for everyone, not just YOU and your CAR!

          • HawkSTL

            Back to the real world for a moment. The traffic has to go somewhere. The streets were constructed for wagons and then cars. Purposely making folks’ lives miserable by reducing traffic lanes and speed limits just forces those people to take alternate routes (i.e. highways to avoid the hassle). Is traffic bad in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta — even though there is more mass transit, etc.? Of course. So, I’m not sure where you’re going with this. Making lives miserable isn’t going to change traffic volume and behavior (i.e. make people not drive). It’s just going to add to aggravation for no reason.

          • Riggle

            People go different ways, or they find alternate transport, that is the real world, not your car slavery dystopia. That is in your head and when you generation dies off/is too infirmed to run the country we may make some progress on designing cities so EVERYONE can get around, not just angry white men in personal vehicles (enjoy the Trump years, I’m sure they will be very good to you and your kind).

          • HawkSTL

            Lovely. I’m no Trump supporter, and he’s my parents’ age. But, I’m guessing that you think post-1959 Cuba is a great place. I don’t.

          • HawkSTL

            And, now the Parkway is closed, so, yay:)

        • Adam

          Driving in many cases is a choice and not a necessity. That’s the reality. It’s convenience at the cost of healthy/vibrant neighborhoods and a healthy/vibrant city.

    • rosabetz

      I live in Shaw, and my husband and I feel similarly about our neighborhood. We have so many reasons to love it, but the blocked streets drive us crazy, by bike and car. When we sell our house in a few years (planning to downsize), that mucked-up grid may prevent us from staying in Shaw. Of course, the prospects for downsizing in our neighborhood are also diminishing, but that’s a convo for another post.