A Brief History of the St. Louis Great Streets Initiative
In early 2006, East-West Gateway launched the St. Louis Great Streets Initiative to expand the way communities think of their streets. Rather than viewing a roadway project as solely a way to move more cars and trucks faster, the goal of the St. Louis Great Streets Initiative is to trigger economic and social benefits by centering communities around interesting, lively and attractive streets that serve all modes of transportation.
More than 160 planners, engineers, city managers and elected officials attended a Great Streets Symposium sponsored by East-West Gateway in October 2006. Attendees heard national and local experts discuss how a “Great Street” can stimulate sustainable economic activity, provide an aesthetically pleasing sense of place and still efficiently and safely move vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.
As a starting point, local leaders and their citizens need to ask what they want their transportation system to accomplish, including how better street design can connect residents with services, amenities and each other. This type of planning requires thinking beyond the curb to see how transportation decisions affect development and how streets affect nearby residents and those in surrounding communities
In February 2007, a technical workshop was held to assist local communities to design their own “Great Streets.” Later that year, the Digital Design Guide made its debut and four communities were selected to host St. Louis Great Streets Initiative Demonstration Projects.
In 2007 and 2008, these demonstration projects benefited from some initial planning, community engagement and conceptual development work. In February 2009, the four demonstration projects received funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for planning and design work.
In August 2012, three additional projects were selected to participate in a second round of the Great Streets Initiative. These projects are Grand Ave. (Grand Center) in the City of St. Louis, Dorsett Rd. in Maryland Heights, and Page Ave. in Pagedale. Planning for these projects will be completed in June 2013.
Beyond these demonstration projects, East-West Gateway encourages all communities to incorporate the Great Streets principles into their roadway projects. Through the TIP application process for suballocated STP funds, project sponsors are encouraged to include a discussion of how the project follows the Great Streets principles. The result has been more communities incorporating Great Streets principles into their roadway improvement projects..