Parks South St. Louis Southwest Garden Streets

Kingshighway Needs a Crosswalk at Tower Grove Park

by Michael R. Allen

In 1902, St. Louis Mayor Rolla Wells appointed a commission to make recommendations for establishing a circumferential boulevard. The commission, led by landscape architect George Kessler, delivered a report calling for a wide and well-landscaped road connecting Carondelet, Tower Grove, Forest and O’Fallon parks, the major north side cemeteries and the north and south riverfront areas. Wells signed an ordinance in 1907 enacting the plan, but its realization was never full. Parts of the Kingshighway system exist, such as the southeast extension along Christy and Holly Hills boulevards as well as the northern memorial parkway from Martin Luther King Drive to Penrose Park.

Yet where Kingshighway was partially or never realized, the road is noisy, sometimes ugly and difficult to traverse on foot. Alas, that is the case at Tower Grove Park. There are traffic signals at Magnolia and Arsenal streets, but no intervening signal or stop sign for the rest of the western length of the park. Residents of Southwest Garden to the west have a tough time walking into Tower Grove Park.

Tower Grove Park’s other three sides do not have this problem. Stop signs on Magnolia and Arsenal streets allow for multiple safe crossings. On Grand Avenue, a busy north-south artery, there is a crosswalk and signal south of the main entrance at Pestalozzi street. Residents of neighborhoods on the north, east and south sides of Tower Grove Park can enter on foot without dodging traffic or having to walk to a park corner.

Dana Gray, Executive Director of the Southwest Garden Neighborhood Association, makes the case for a crosswalk in this video.

2 replies on “Kingshighway Needs a Crosswalk at Tower Grove Park”

Will the city ever go for a crosswalk in this location? A pedestrian bridge is an alternative, but couldn’t we design a better alternative? To me, a bridge says unpleasant infrastructure. I think a bridge would detract from the people-scaled streetscape – residential architecture, tree lines just above roof ridges – that we appreciate about the Southwest Garden neighborhood. The ADA requirements for a bridge would only add more concrete to the vista. Why not a tunnel? We have a few bike tunnels in Forest Park, so it’s not unheard of. I’m imagining something much grander for the western gate of Tower Grove Park, however. Imagine a new paved path along Reber Place’s defining central median. Imagine walking/riding east along that path and dipping gradually as you approach Kingshighay. Imagine surfacing right around the west entrance of the park and the view that would emerge. What an entrance to Tower Grove Park! A tunnel at Reber Place would not only create a western access point for pedestrians and cyclists while keeping them pleasantly on the ground, it offers the opportunity to make the western gate into a grand entrance.

Although it would certainly be an ambitious construction project, it is certainly doable.

Hmmm, it would cost a pretty penny, but I think combining lane reduction with a crosswalk–featuring hardy brick pavers–would be the best thing for this stretch. Kingshighway is basically four lanes at nearly every other stretch along its length–except between Arsenal and Magnolia. Then for some inexplicable reason, it widens to include two full additional lanes. To what end? No industry. The iron foundry along Hereford–between Columbia and Arsenal (now partially occupied by Schnucks)–is long since gone. So why this wide-open stretch? Take it back to four lanes, provide a parking lane on both sides (which will naturally help in the periods when extra parking is necessary), curb bulb outs placed along this stretch every hundred feet or so (with plantings–further traffic-calming), contained within the parking lane, and then a couple of formal crossings–one or two wide crossings at the entrance gates, and one at Columbia/Magnolia.

Sure, drivers will grumble at the reduced number of lanes, but as I said, Kingshighway, when factoring in turn lanes (center and intersectional), is only four lanes anyway. People will figure it out, and in time, no one will even notice. And they may even derive enjoyment at the cypress trees planted in the bulb outs spaced every one hundred feet (just a little prejudicial idea of mine; I really like the cypresses planted all across the City and in her parks) in the parking lane. Oh, and it would only cost maybe 1.5-2 millionUSD, as opposed to a tunnel, which would involve relocating numerous underground utilities.

Oh, and while we’re at it, we could put some formal crossings–again, with bulb-outs–at all of the intersecting streets along Arsenal and Magnolia–provided we eliminate the gas-wasting, pollution-causing stops signs along the way. Magnolia, at least, is just not busy enough to justify stop signs along any stretch of its length by the park. And stop signs probably don’t help with safety. Nor does the decreased speed limits on both streets, which I understand are primarily the result of a pedestrian fatality at Thurman? Klemm? on Magnolia a short time back. Most stop signs in this City are the result of ignorance and hysteria, not scientific analysis. The one at Alfred/Magnolia triply so. Basically, those who will obey stop signs and other traffic regulations probably don’t cause accidents/fatalities, and those who don’t give a flying f*** about them will just ignore nearly everything–speed limits, signs, signals, etc. Why inconvenience many, when it is only the few who are the jack-offs? 

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