Saturday, April 15, 2006

"Last Missouri Exit"

After attending the Tell-Tale Heart show at Cummels, which was fantastic by all accounts, I rode over to check out the night game atmosphere around New Busch.

Maybe it's just the newness of the place, but there seemed to be a LOT more people walking around the streets of downtown near the ballpark. Mike Shannon's new, more visible, location was packed. Cards games on multiple high-def TVs were clearly visible from Market Street.

The feeling around the park is incredible. The vibe of the ballpark pours into downtown. From wide angles outside the park you see what's going on inside the stadium. The interior Jumbotron and scoreboards are in full view from the neighboring streets.

Everything feels closer. The roads around the ballpark are especially close. I like the intimacy of it. However, there's a potential serious downside to all the nearby intersecting streets.

On eastbound Hwy 40, you pass a sign that reads "Last Missouri Exit". From the elevated highway beside the stadium, the offramp drops you down right around the corner from the Broadway Oyster Bar, the Eugene Field House, and the ballpark. The end of the offramp is marked with "Do Not Enter" signs to prevent drivers from accidentally heading the wrong way up the exit ramp.

However, with all the lighting, traffic, glare and general distractions coming from the very nearby ballpark, it's easy to see how a driver, especially one unfamiliar with the area, and perhaps after having imbibed on a few too many of St. Louis' most famous beverages, could easily drive the wrong way up this exit ramp. It would be great if there was a good way to make this intersection safer.

The other dangerous intersection is the onramp to westbound Highway 40 from Broadway right next to southeast corner of the stadium. The area is filled with pedestrians. You see many of them sheepishly trying to walk across this highway onramp. Meanwhile, careless drivers will speed onto this ramp from Broadway at all hours. Combine the dangerous intersection with consumption of mass quantities of St. Louie Soda and you have another serious safety hazard.

State of the art pedestrian safety improvements have been made all around the ballpark on the new road improvements. So far however, it doesn't look like anything has been done to improve safety on these two old highway ramps. They deserve a look. We don't need that "Last Missouri Exit" sign taking on a new meaning.

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