Posts Tagged ‘Metro’

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Metrolink Bridge over Vandeventer appears to be designed for Murals

January 31, 2011

As I have previously written, The Grove (also known as Forest Park Southeast) is home to a growing number of murals that really make a big impact on the perceptions of a visitor to the neighborhood.  Although The Grove has a wonderful start, its collection of murals is still quite small, at least in comparison to the large number of blank walls facing Manchester (and other side streets in the neighborhood).  With the addition of the neon sign at Manchester and Sarah, The Grove is becoming more and more of an attractive place, and I am convinced that this investment will pay off.

New Neon "Welcome to The Grove" Sign

A great way to add to this momentum is with more murals, and what better place to start but at more of the neighborhood’s “thresholds.”  With neighbors like Barnes Jewish, Wash U Med School and St. Louis University, those points of entry that are visible to these significant populations hold lots of potential.  As a SLU student I would often hike over to the Phillips 66 on Vandeventer for their competitively priced tall cans of Budweiser, but was totally unaware of The Grove’s existence just a couple of short blocks away.  In addition, I felt that the dismal walk from Campus was only barely worth the cheap beer.

Now, the Rail Bridge over Vandeventer just south of Highway 40 has been rebuilt, and it has indented arches along both sides of the roadway, and in the support that splits the opposing lanes of traffic.

Train Bridge over Vandeventer – Doesn’t it seem to be asking for Murals?

These spaces seem to be designed for murals, and I really hope that whoever is responsible for this bridge (Metro?) is open to the idea.  I truly believe that SLU students would be more willing to walk to attractions in the Grove if the walk itself were more attractive.  Right now, passing underneath the highway and train tracks is the scariest part of the trip.  Bright and Colorful Murals underneath one of the bridges could not only make the walk more enjoyable right away, they could also encourage the addition of even more artwork to the area, maintaining the momentum that has been building here for several years now.

For more on the Grove’s Murals, see MUMC.Wordpress.com.

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New Scott Transit Plaza loses Neighbors

December 19, 2010

Last weekend I noticed that one of my favorite buildings had come down.  While driving down 40, I glanced towards the Armory and saw a large lot of dirt to its south instead of the corrugated-steel warehouse that was there last time I had looked.

Beck and Corbitt Steel on Spring

I admit that the building was not an architectural marvel, or even particularly attractive, but I loved it.  With its ring of graffiti underneath the large letters announcing its former tenant, this building told the story of the area now and in the past.  It had me imagining what it was like alongside the train tracks running through the middle of the city when they were alive and productive here.  Only two blocks south of Market Street and directly on the tracks, this was a prime location.  In addition to all of this, the building had a small feature that really attracted me to it.  This Bear (or Badger as I have always called him) was on the West side of the building.  I will miss it.

The Badger

I originally speculated that this would be the site of Metro’s new Park and Ride lot for the new Scott Transit Plaza, but was corrected by Jennifer from NextStopSTL (Thanks!).  Unfortunatly, I still don’t know why this block was raized.  Maybe the land is going to be used by whoever is in the former May Company Warehouse that sits across Spring.

Gone

A couple google searches taught me that the Million square foot warehouse sold by Macy’s last year for 2 million dollars has at least 2 tenants now: Hazzard Moving and Storage, and Warehouse of Stuff.  Hopefully this land will be used productivly for those tenants or maybe for some future plans for the Armory (wouldn’t that be cool?).   I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens, but whatever it is, I won’t forget what was here before.

600 S. Spring

I really wish progress didn’t have to be so destructive.

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Light Rail in Denver and Salt Lake City

September 5, 2010

I recently spent some time in both Denver and Salt Lake City, both places that have many examples of urban planning successes and failures that serve as great learning experiences.  Denver’s 16th Street Mall and Salt Lake’s “The Gateway” and City Creek Center developments represent large downtown projects worthy of serious study.  One thing that all three of these developments have in common is the fact that they are served by light rail that runs on city streets.  Both light rail systems are also very similar to ours in St. Louis (we use Siemens SD-400 and SD-460, while Denver and Salt Lake both use the SD-100 and SD-160).  The main difference between St. Louis’ Metrolink and TheRide in Denver/UTA Trax in Salt Lake City is the height of the platforms and the lack of a dedicated right of way (at least in the center city).  Because the platforms are basically just the sidewalks in Denver or sidewalk-like medians in Salt Lake, entering the train requires walking up steps (like getting onto the bus).  To accommodate people with disabilities or parents with strollers, etc.,  both systems have ramps leading up to elevated platforms at the front of each train.

18th and California Station - Denver, Colorado

The elevated section of the platform can be seen towards the back of the above photo.  Below is a picture of a UTA Trax Train approaching a platform, with the accessible section towards the lower right of the photo.

UTA Trax Train in Downtown Salt Lake City

A view from the platform itself provides a better idea of how this raised section really works.

UTA Trax Accessible Train Entry

Seeing this system firsthand was a really good experience for me, because it served as confirmation that a new  Metrolink lines could run right down the middle (or edges) of our excessively wide avenues in St. Louis.  In particular, the new North-South line could run through downtown on Tucker (12th Street) and extend South along Gravois (which Tucker turns into) and North along N. Florissant (which Tucker also turns into).  On the North side, the line could make a Westward turn onto Natural Bridge from N. Florissant to provide a more central route.  Because Tucker is currently being torn up and replaced just North of Downtown, this would be a great place (and time) to begin the project.  The route could connect to the existing Metrolink line with a Viaduct stop similar to the Grand Station, or riders could simply walk the two blocks to 14th street or the 4 blocks to 8th street to change lines.  Maybe it could be the Green Line!

Possible Future Metrolink Map?

I know this idea is not by any means new, and a similar route is what most of us have been hoping we’ll get in the near future (particularly since the passage of Prop A), but I really think that this line on existing city streets would be most affordable, and would have the potential to do the most good.  Extending Metrolink along Highway 55 is silly to me, because the areas around the highway are not pedestrian friendly.  Gravois could really use some pedestrian activity to activate businesses that already exist and create a demand for more businesses along this street which essentially serves as a high speed thruway.   The addition of light rail to this corridor will also reduce the auto traffic.

On the North side this line would serve as a much needed catalyst to spur development along the largely abandoned shoulders of N. Florissant (many of which are clean slates for new construction) and would also connect the steadily improving Old North St. Louis neighborhood with Downtown.  Although Buses will remain the centerpiece of our regional transportation system, expanding our light rail increases the visibility of transit, the likelihood that it will be used, and that the neighborhoods it serves will be explored.

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Proposition A

April 7, 2010

Today, real history was made.  The Future of St. Louis looks significantly brighter with the guarantee of  reliable transit.  I want to thank the County voters and to apologize for ever doubting them.

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City Sound Tracks

March 24, 2010

This Saturday is a great time to use Metro.  Union Station and Tom’s Bar and Grill near the Central West End station will both be hosting all day concerts featuring a long list of performers in an event called City Sound Tracks.  I will unfortunately be out of town but encourage everyone to attend this event to show support for transit, local music, and the homeless (the event is sponsored by What’s Up Magazine).  Learn more on the event’s facebook page.

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Vote Yes on Prop A April 6th!

March 16, 2010

Today I spent some time at the Brentwood Metrolink Station.  I was shocked by the large number of people who were both registered voters in St. Louis County and direct consumers of transit, but were unaware that Prop A is on the ballot.  Luckily I had some great conversations with Metro riders and hopefully convinced a few extra people to make it out to the polls.

Metrolink in Clayton

Due to my very positive experience today, I would like to encourage everyone who uses transit and is a proponent of Prop A, to start conversations about it.  Transit users have great motivation to vote on April 6th, but they will not make it to the polls if they are unaware of what is going on.  We need every vote we can get so take Metro to the County and start a conversation!

UPDATE:

An excellent editorial and cartoon appeared in today’s Post-Dispatch (Sunday March 21st) on the subject of Prop A.  I highly recommend giving this a read and spreading the word.

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A day trip on Metro

March 14, 2010

Today I decided to take a day trip using public transportation.  I walked down to Manchester, took the 57 Downtown to the Civic Center, and then hopped the Link out to Belleville, Illinois AKA Belle-Vegas.

The trip was very interesting – the view contrasts sharply on the two sides of the river, with Illinois being predominantly woods and rural looking homes (at least in my opinion).  I imagine that this trip would be very pleasant and surrounded by a lot of green during the summertime.  Being able to really enjoy the scenery is wonderful for someone like me who usually drives places.  Not having to focus on the road lets you notice so many wonderful little things!  Being a pedestrian and a transit rider is great – especially if you are a photographer. Despite the cool and damp weather, I had a great time exploring this small but well preserved town (and seeing some new Ghost Signs).

Ghost Sign on the Exchange Club of Belleville

Ghost Sign on the Exchange Club of Belleville

I was getting pretty hungry by the time I made it to Main Street, but the only places open to eat were Quizno’s, St. Louis Bread Company, and Jimmy Johns (okay there was also a Caribbean restaurant but I just didn’t feel like it).  They must really love sandwiches in Belleville.  I’m surprised that I didn’t see a Subway.

Bread Company on Main Street in Belleville, Illinois

Instead of eating at one of these chains (even though two of them are fairly local), I ended up randomly buying movie tickets and watching “Green Zone” at the Lincoln Theater on Main Street.  This option left me eating a hot dog, nachos and chocolate covered almonds.  Actually not too bad.

Lincoln Theater - Belleville, Illinois

The tickets at the Lincoln were only $4.50 for the Sunday Matinee, and food was also shockingly cheap (in comparison to what I’m used to paying at movie theaters).  Afterwards, the walk back to the Metrolink station was just as pleasant as the walk there (thanks to daylight savings today it was still light).  Anyway, the trip home was pretty uneventful, but it really proved how easy it is to take a little day trip using Metro.  Total transportation fees?  $5.50 - approximately what I would have spent on gas if I had decided to undertake the hour and a half round trip (an amount of driving that I simply don’t like to do).  The moral of the story is to vote yes on Prop A.  Transit is great.  View the rest of the pictures from my day trip here.

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Riding the Bus isn’t so bad

February 9, 2010

I have been planning on riding a bus for a while.  Last week I was told that the best way to support Metro is to use it and I knew I had to start soon.  I’ve always been an appreciator of Metro-buses, I’ve just never been a rider.  I feel like an idiot for not using it when I was a student/pedestrian living on Grand.

MetroBus on Grand

I now live very close to a bus stop but am so tied to my car that I never even think of riding a bus.  After reading UrbanReviewSTL this morning I knew I had to finally start riding the bus.  Luckily I also noticed a mention of a press conference for high speed rail at the Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center (which happens to be the end of the line for the 57 Manchester, my bus) on STLActivistHub.  I was able to look up the time of the next bus and dash outside just in time to catch it (which is good because it was very windy and cold today) making it downtown to the Civic Center just in time.  Unfortunately, the turnout for this press conference was quite small, but KSDK came and got the whole thing on tape (at least as much as anyone present was able to comprehend).  The woman from the Sierra Club was the most interesting in my opinion because she really went into the positive environmental role that transit can play.  Apparently the Sierra Club will be introducing a new transit oriented website for our region in the near future – something to look out for.

Press Conference Unveiling "The Right Track"

I haven’t really read the report, but from looking at the picture I think there could be a combination of real high speed rail (~220 mph) with upgrades to existing tracks that allow for something like 100 mph speeds.  I’m not exactly sure how this would work but I imagine that such a setup is possible.  Anyway, riding the bus actually turned out to be pretty convenient, and since I had memorized a couple of key times to dash for the bus I experienced almost no waiting around in the cold.  I plan on continuing to use the bus to get around and encourage anyone who has yet to try it out to do so.  Oh yeah, and vote yes on Proposition A April 6th!

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