The East-West Gateway Council of Governments, the metropolitan planning organization for the St. Louis Metro Region, posted two RFQs this past summer for conceptual analysis of various MetroLink expansion corridors in the region.
St. Louis City will fund one study to examine a portion of the route known as the Northside/Southside that runs through Downtown St. Louis, extends north past what will be the new NGA site to near I-70 at Goodfellow Boulevard, and from Downtown south along Jefferson Avenue slightly past the City limits to Bayless Road at I-55.
St. Louis County will fund the other study to examine the three corridors in St. Louis County: MetroNorth – north from the existing MetroLink between North Hanley Station and UMSL North station, Daniel Boone – west from Clayton to Westport, and MetroSouth – south from Shrewsbury to I-55 and following I-55 down to Butler Hill. The County-funded study was expanded to include the northern portion of the original Northside/Southside corridor not included in the City study, and the area west to the MetroNorth corridor including Ferguson. This route falls within the St. Louis Promise Zone, as does most of the Northside/Southside route falling north of Downtown. More detail about each corridor/route to be studied can be found below.
The study funded by the City will cost around $2 million, which will come from St. Louis City Treasurer Tishaura Jones’ office, while the study funded by the County will cost around $3 million, which will come from “Prop A” 0.50‐cent sales tax revenues in the County, as appropriated by the St. Louis County Council.
While former St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley approached East-West Gateway approximately 2 years ago to see if the Daniel Boone corridor could meet the criteria for the Federal Transportation Administration’s New Starts capital investment grant program, County Executive Steve Stenger called for examining multiple light rail expansion projects corridors that traverse parts of St. Louis County because much of the data was outdated – some more than 20 years old. When St. Louis City Mayor Slay announced via Twitter that he planned to make North-South MetroLink expansion a top priority in his 16th and last year as Mayor of St. Louis City, light rail expansion gained significant reinvigoration in regional conversations.
All of the studies currently on the table will be looking only at light rail, and will consider incremental build out (minimal operating routes) in the case that funding is not available all at once for an entire route.
These studies are 12-18 months with implementation approximately 7-10 years following the identification of the regional priority projects if funding is identified.
Consultant selection has been made for the City-funded study, and will go before the board of East-West Gateway for approval next week (9/28/2016). The aim is to begin work for the study in November of this year.
The RFQ (Request for Qualifications) for the County-funded study is still open, but work for the study is estimated to begin in December of this year.
You can view both the closed RFQ for the City’s study (RFQ for Conceptual Design Study of the Northside-Southside MetroLink Corridor ) and the County’s study (RFQ for Conceptual Design Study of the Northside-Southside MetroLink Corridor) at East-West Gateway’s website: http://www.ewgateway.org/.
Routes considered under County study:
- MetroNorth – Preliminary studies on this corridor go back to 1995. This corridor will undergo a feasibility study as a part of the RFQ process. Route examined under RFQ: original MetroNorth Corridor from at/near North Hanley Station up to close to I-270, as well as expanding that route along 270 east to the northernmost portion of the Northside/Southside route down to the City border at Goodfellow and I-70. This area will traverse Ferguson and the area designated the Promise Zone.
- Daniel Boone – Route examined under RFQ: specific route has already been identified in previous study.* RFQ will collect further information.
- MetroSouth – Environmental impact study done in 2005, supported from then County Executive Charlie Dooley and Congressman Gephardt. Route examined under RFQ: specific MetroSouth route already identified in previous study, and original section of Northside/Southside extending south beyond Bayless at I-55 down to Butler Hill at I-55. RFQ will collect further information.
- It is anticipated that the work for this study will begin December 1, 2016 and continue through November 30, 2017.
Routes considered under City study:
- Northside/Southside – Most recent study on this corridor completed in 2008. Current study will refresh data from 2008 study and look at an alternative route to serve the newly designated NGA site. Route examined under RFQ: from downtown St. Louis City to NGA site, up to Goodfellow at I-70, and from downtown St. Louis City south to Bayless Rd at I-55.
- It is anticipated that the work for this study will begin November 1, 2016 and continue through May 31, 2018
“CMT serves as the regional transit advocacy organization and we strongly support efforts to expand our existing public transportation system. It is critical that current transit expansion planning initiatives—which in some cases are more than 20 years old—are updated with more current data about potential ridership and financing to objectively determine which project should rise to the top of the region’s priority list. CMT notes that the East- West Gateway Board of Directors has not endorsed any route among those identified in the region’s long-range transportation plan. Prior to choosing the region’s next potential transit route, CMT urges elected officials and all affected stakeholders to convene for a thorough review and discussion of next steps.
We have an opportunity here as a region to craft a route that may not necessarily rely on corridors identified more than two decades ago. With that said, it is our hope and goal that the next project selected is a regional project providing public transit benefits to both the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County and takes into account not only the rides provided but the economic development and social equity opportunities of light rail ,” said Kimberly Cella, executive director of CMT.
*Current Status of Planning and Implementation Activities of MetroLink Corridors can also be found on East-West Gateway’s website. Information on the terms used to describe various types of corridor studies can be found in a small booklet called “Talking the Talk” available through this link: http://www.ewgateway.org/pdffiles/library/trans/talkingthetalk-2004.pdf