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Monday, September 26, 2005

Sidewalk Failure

Have you ever tried to walk on Kingshighway through the I-64/US 40 interchange? It's almost impossible. On both the east and west sides of the street, the sidewalks are almost nonexistent except of the actual bridge over the highway, where they are built into the bridge. Even there, the sidewalks are no wider than five feet. The other sidewalks between Oakland Avenue on the south and Barnes Hospital Plaza to the north are a travesty. The pedestrian literally has to cross busy on and off ramps with no marked pedestrian crossings -- the sidewalks just end at the ramp lane, and continue directly across. There are no signs instructing motorists to behave well toward pedestrians -- not even a basic sign stating to slow down and be alert for pedestrians.

Walking through here is dangerous, but safer than one alternative -- the pedestrian walk behind the Central Institute for the Deaf. I have heard about muggings on this bridge, which is secluded and only visible to motorists below on the highway -- they ain't exactly in a position to help if they manage to see anything while shuttling by at 65 miles per hour.

The worst problem is that this sidewalk is totally, completely and utterly inaccessible to people using wheelchairs. The sidewalk is not continuous, for one thing. It's also lacking adequate width even for walkers to pass each other comfortably, let alone someone in a wheelchair. Trying to wheel across an on-ramp lane is probably not the smartest thing someone could do, either.

Oh, and if the pedestrian manages to walk successfully through the intersection on the way to the MetroLink station on Euclid Avenue, it isn't exactly easy to find or well-marked. The hospital looks like a fortress that starts at Kingshighway, and someone unfamiliar with the station may not assume it would be located where it is -- the streets seem to be more private service drives back in the complex.

Perhaps the mammoth BJC Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine should think about this the next time they spend several million dollars on new streetlights, planter boxes and illuminated street signs. How about new safe (and ADA-compliant) sidewalks and illuminated MetroLink signs?

The we can start thinking about what to do with the growing spread of ugly huge parking structures for the complex located along Taylor Avenue.


Anonymous said...

New I-64 construction will begin in 2007, with a new single-point interchange and improved pedestrian circulation planned for Kingshighway.

The CWE station really should be called the BJC station since that is what it directly serves. Those coming from FPSE would be better off taking the #13 or #95 buses to the station.

Joe said...

I, too, HATE walking through the I-64/Kingshighway interchange.

However, I used to think the little walkways UNDER Kingshighway along the slopes under the overpass were kinda cool. If you could get across the on-ramps, you could at least sneak through that little space and get to the other side of Kingshighway. Are those still open?

Another way to short-cut your trip through that area is to cut through the grass down to Clayton Ave. between Kingshighway and the EB I-64 off ramp. Last time I checked, there were no fences preventing that. At least then you avoid crossing the EB I-64 off ramp as it lands at BJC Plaza. Clayton Ave., with sidewalks on both sides, passes under that ramp, as well as under Kingshighway.

I used to use that overpass by CID a lot. It was probably safer when CID owned the building at 660 South Taylor, so it was a connector between two parts of their campus. Now, their security people don't monitor that bridge so much.

As you may have noticed, express buses stop at this interchange, making the poor pedestrian access all the more maddening.

I would be very happy if the interchange rebuild improved ped safety, but I am skeptical.

As for taking the bus to go three blocks from the MetroLink into FPSE - come on! Even if you take the #95 or #52 south on Kingshighway, you still have to walk across Kingshighway at Oakland to get into FPSE - no small feat at any time of day! And the #13 just doesn't run often enough.

I used to walk from the CWE MetroLink station (and points north) all the way to Taylor/Arco and vicinity. If you're headed south of Manchester, it's probably a good idea to take the #13; but if your destination is north of Manchester, it doesn't seem worth the wait time.

The other option for crossing I-64, I suppose, is the Taylor Avenue overpass. At least the traffic isn't as heavy. Still, it's pretty desolate most of the time around there.

Michael Allen said...

The underpasses Joe mentions still exist -- quite cool.

FPSE residents trying to get to work on time on Sunday mornings can always outwalk the bus. One cannot rely on the bus soming on time, but one can always know that walking will take a set amount of time every day. Telling these people to wait for the bus is silly. It's the least practical advice I've heard.

Should FPSE residents not expect safe and walkable streets? Should they not expect that public thoroughfares leading to a pblic transit stop be public space that is easily navigable?

Chnaging the CWE station name to BJC station (or whatever acronym they come up with next) would be outrageous. They don't own the station, and it is only two blocks south of the Euclid business district -- it serves the CWE directly despite the anti-urban measures taken by BJC/WashUMed.

I almost always walk across the Taylor overpass, and prefer it to Kingshighway for the reasons that I mention.