Wednesday, October 07, 2009

South Grand, Delor traffic improvements looking good

South Grand traffic calming experiment from Arsenal to Utah:

Drove it, liked it, hope they extend it. I especially like the way they used massive concrete barriers and sections of concrete pipe to erect temporary barriers. The concrete barriers and restriping create an immediate, noticeable change.

I like the "brutalist" look of it. It makes a statement: "We're gonna do something to clam traffic around here, and we're gonna do it now. We're not waiting for millions of dollars from somewhere else, we can do this now." Traffic was calmer and pedestrians looked more comfortable crossing the street.

Maybe we should consider other opportunties for doing similar projects with these heavy concrete, movable street barriers and lane restriping? South Broadway through Carondelet seems a natural, as does N. Broadway through Baden. There must be many others. Natural Bridge on the north side is a street many say is way over capacity.

Delor street widening from Ridgewood to Morganford:

It is impressive the way new sidewalks and pavement can brighten the whole area. The tiny front yards look appropriate given the small lots, compact houses, and narrow gangways. The charm of the area looks to be improved. Another plus will be improved views of historic Bevo Mill from the west.


Anonymous said...

I think you've missed the point. The ugly barricades are up because the city didn't believe that actually doing something was a good idea. This test seems to have been popular, but it was set up to fail. The stated priority of the city was to make sure that traffic still flowed freely. The barricades serve no other purpose than to drag out the process of real change. And those barricades have a funny way of sticking around in St. Louis. Temporary could be 20 years.

Stephen O. said...

^ Right. This was done AFTER the project got millions of dollars because the city thinks that all streets are for cars only.

Rick Bonasch said...

Thanks for the comments. I hear what you're saying, but Anonymous at 11:16, you've missed my point...

What we have here is an unintended consequence. Readers of STL Rising know that one of this site's greatest interests is the way traffic and street design can improve quality of life.

Indeed, in our personal situation, we moved off of our first city block because it was a one-way, speed zone lacking many street trees. We moved to a block with a street of equal width, two way traffic, and a mature street tree canopy. The temperature is cooler, the street is quieter, and the cars move slower. These things add up to improvements in quality of life.

So it is on South Grand, even before the millions approved are spent on physical improvements. Isn't it interesting that a few thousand dollars worth of concrete barriers and pipe planters can have the same calming effect as millions in permanent improvements?

I am sure that when all the improvements go in, assuming the project does proceed as planned, that the area will be beautiful.

On the other hand, we have miles and miles of city streets with huge excess capacity. How much calmer would our city and neighborhoods be if we tried more of the basic concrete barricade and lane restriping approach sooner rather than later?

All urban solutions need not cost millions of dollars and take years to make happen.

Anonymous said...

Planters and other natural arrangements don't cost millions and to use ugly concrete barriers only proves that the city prefers to bias the results and that low-standards-R-us. Even the needed bicycle lanes abruptly end as the experiment begins... stuck on stupid is the message.

Rick Bonasch said...

Nice planters or brutalistic concrete barriers are a matter of taste. The issue for me is slower traffic and an improved pedestrian experience.

I'm all for nice looking stuff. I'm more for slowing down traffic on more streets.

There's only so much money and it only goes so far. Less expensive options means we can get more done.