Mere hours after the large concrete pots and barriers had been installed along South Grand from Arsenal to Utah—officials, residents, businesses, bicyclists, drivers—everyone was happy. To the surprise of many, including St. Louis Streets Director Todd Waelterman, traffic continued to flow freely and slower without any congestion despite the reduced lane count. And as time would prove, the slower speed of traffic reduced the number of crashes and improved pedestrian safety along South Grand. When the first phase of the project is constructed later this summer, it promises to be a marked improvement to the livability of this important retail corridor.

So it is disappointing to find out the city will not undertake similar improvements along another stretch of Grand at Grand Center. In fact, the estimated $1.8 million streetscape project stretching from Page Ave to Lindell Blvd will improve very little at all. It will redo the sidewalks, make all curb ramps fully accessible, and that’s about it. Everything else will look almost exactly the same.

Plans for Grand Ave in the vicinity of the Fox Theatre. Source: St. Louis Board of Public Service.

Curb extensions will not be installed to emphasize and increase the pedestrian space. Trees will not be planted along Grand Ave to green, shade, and soften the urban environment. No dedicated bike lanes nor sharrows will be painted on the roadway despite the emerging bike corridor on Grand Ave south of I-64. Parking meters will continue to have a baffling set of hours that likely hurt local businesses: no parking from 6pm to 6am. Grand Ave will, also, continue to have 4-lanes north of Bell Ave.

Citizens of St. Louis often wonder why Grand Center continues to underperform as a commercial center despite the presence of multiple crowd generating venues such as the Fox Theatre and Powell Symphony Hall and the presence of SLU nearby. The Grand Center streetscape project won’t do anything to help.

Excerpt of plans for Grand Ave – Page to Lindell

Posted by Herbie Markwort

I like to write about transportation.