by Michael R. Allen
The Central West End MetroLink station is becoming the least accessible station in the system. Once upon a time, the station was quite easy to access — its entrance on Euclid Avenue pt it on an open street, there were a few back paths to the station and all was well. In the twelve years since the station opened, the growth blob of the Barnes-Jewish-Children’s Hospital has engulfed the station with new buildings and a disastrous closing of Euclid between Forest Park and Children’s Place. The station’s visibility has declined and access is not as easy. The only back path remaining is an illegal and unwise walk from the platform to Taylor Avenue, which bypasses ticket machines and validators. This path is no option to disabled persons, either. The main entrance on Euclid is obscured by the street closure, which has created an elbow flow at the Euclid and Childrens Place intersection. This flow has made pedestrian life in this area difficult since people don’t come to the same sort of stop at an elbow as they did at a full T intersection. That is, they don’t really stop.
Lately, a large half-block section of sidewalk on Euclid immediately south of the station has been closed for six months for construction of a new building. A covered scaffold could have been put in palce during the project’s duration but such a pedestrian and transit-friendly gesture is of little interest to BJC planners.
I don’t even have to mention ow the mono-use blob development of the hospital has made life pretty boring around the station — there are no shops, no bathrooms and little visual interest.
What needs to be done to make the station better?
– Re-opening Euclid.
– Creating another station entrance at Taylor.
– Creating some strategic cut-throughs in the enormous and large-scaled hospital complex.
– Placing storefronts in the new hospital building adjacent to the station. (Tenants won’t move in, of course, if Euclid remains closed south of Forest Park.)
The situation at the Central West End MetroLink station is proof that density alone doesn’t make for an inviting and person-friendly built environment. Access and thoughtful design choices are essential to making a big city work for its residents and visitors.