Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Messenger: Successful Transit Planning in St. Louis Needs to Take an "AND" Approach

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Messenger: Successful Transit Planning in St. Louis Needs to Take an "AND" Approach

Article excerpt

For too long, St. Louis has lived in an either/or world.

City or county.

North or south.

Republican or Democrat.

Missouri or Illinois.

Black or white.

Protester or police.

It's killing us.

Political rivalries, arbitrary geographic boundaries and multiple sorts of divisions cause this region to often appear to be less than the sum of its parts.

The debate over the future of transit is one of the greatest examples of this. Last week, the city's parking commission committed $2 million to update the design of the long-planned Northside- Southside Metrolink route. If built out, at an approximate cost of more than $2 billion, the route would run through the spine of St. Louis, connecting South County to North County right through the heart of the city. It would connect the dense and diverse south side of Gravois and Benton parks to the promised new high-tech jobs of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency being built on the north side of the city. It would bring hope to the federally designated Promise Zone that straddles the city-county border on the North Side.

When St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay elevated talk of finding a way to fund the new transit route earlier this summer, his counterpart in the county, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, responded with a typical "either/or" response. He refused to sign a letter supporting a federal grant to update the study and instead announced for the second time in a year plans to study three county routes.

It was a missed opportunity.

As it was a year ago when Stenger first said he planned to spend some of the county's growing transit fund to take a look at three different county routes. Actually, what the county did was run an online poll on its website asking voters to pick among three routes, one serving South County, one serving the Westport area and one going north from Clayton.

Many respondents to the survey 89 of them noticed what was missing: The Northside-Southside Metrolink route.

"Why is the Northside/Southside corridor left out?" wrote one in a comment on the county website. "This is a misguided and sophomoric way for government to make a billion-dollar decision. …

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