Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Urban Irony

Here is a truck unloading a delivery on Olive Street in the heart of the improving Old Post Office District of downtown St. Louis. The truck is double parked, leaving room for cars to pass in the next lane. The scene is a sign of life and commerce. Trucks are an important part of a vibrant city.

Ten years ago, you'd rarely see a truck unloading in the heart of downtown St. Louis. Today, cars, pedestrians, cyclists and trucks are all learning to share the streets of a healthy urban core.

Meanwhile, a few blocks east, long range plans are in the works to reconnect downtown to the riverfront and Arch grounds. City to River is promoting the concept of highway removal and the creation of a new urban street in its place.

In the planning process leading up to the Arch design competition, there was widespread agreement that the biggest problem facing the Arch was a lack of connectivity to downtown and that the biggest barrier to those connections is the existence of I-70.

All five finalist design teams acknowledge the problem with the highway barrier and many of them stated that highway removal is the ultimate solution to reconnecting downtown to the riverfront and Arch grounds.

Replacing a highway with a boulevard means that truck traffic will be using the city street grid. It also means there will be more traffic on the streets of downtown. This means more people and commerce in the city instead of bypassing it.

A plan to replace a highway with an urban street is going to create questions and opposition. The two main objections to the plan for highway removal have been: 1) increasing truck traffic on city streets and, 2) increasing traffic congestion on city streets, causing delays.

Isn't it ironic that the ultimate urban design solution to reconnecting downtown to the riverfront is opposed due to reasons of increasing urban vitality?


Anonymous said...

no people, no cars in the pic. Must have been at an off time.

Rick Bonasch said...

Hey Anon -

It was a weekday, between 7 and 8 AM. That's the time most trucks do their deliveries - early AM.

If you look at downtown traffic, there's a morning rush from around 6:30 - 8:30 and then a PM rush from around 4:30 - 6:00, Monday through Friday.

The rest of the day and on weekends, traffic volume goes way down.


I love the trucks on the downtown streets. Whats a city without a little noise, sweet smelling diesel fumes and traffic problems. Ahh - more trucks please.

ray at

Rick Bonasch said...

Thanks Ray for the post and comment. Though I must confess that it's a little hard to tell if you're being serious or tongue in cheek. Either way, there are a lot of people who think that having more trucks - and traffic - on the streets of downtown is just bad.

I wonder which these folks think is the better option: having more trucks and traffic on the streets of downtown or having the permanent barrier of the elevated and depressed interstate lanes barrier between downtown and the riverfront?

Anonymous said...

Early AM in Europe (and in other regions that put people first) is 4 AM to 7 AM and delivery trucks are less than half this size in order to improve traffic flow and to keep noise to a minimum. After those hours people come first. But this is MO and most are too drugged out on meth and the public is too ignorant to know any better...