skip to main content

East-West Board Adopts Jefferson Ave.  Alignment as the Locally Preferred Alternative for Light Rail Expansion in Northside-Southside Corridor

The East-West Gateway Board of Directors voted to approve the proposed Jefferson Ave. alignment for light rail expansion 14 to 5 at its Feb. 28 Board meeting.   The City of St. Louis and Bi-State Development Agency have been working to update the locally preferred alternative (LPA) for a north-south MetroLink extension in the City of St. Louis. Bi-State leaders and their consultant, HNTB, were present to seek approval of this updated LPA from the Council’s Board of Directors at the Feb. meeting.

Approval of the LPA by the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Board of Directors is an important step in the project receiving federal funds. The Board’s LPA decision enables the City to advance the project to the environmental documentation stage, during which federally-required environmental documentation will be completed. The City also anticipates requesting entrance into the Federal Transit Administration’s project development, or New Starts process, later in 2024. It is in the New Starts process that projects compete nationally for discretionary federal transit funds.

The route . . .

The 5.8-mile proposed alignment of dedicated, in-street light rail would directly connect North and South St. Louis City while connecting to downtown (via a transfer station to existing MetroLink).

The 2023 15% Design Study conducted technical analyses, preliminary engineering, and community engagement. This proposed alignment would include 10 stations and an alignment that runs (from north to south) along Natural Bridge Avenue from Grand Blvd. to Parnell Street, and then along Parnell Street/Jefferson Avenue from Natural Bridge Avenue to Chippewa Street/S. Broadway.

The 2023 study estimates a forecasted 5,000 average daily boardings, $8-9M in estimated annual operating and maintenance costs, and $1.1B in estimated capital costs.

A little history . . .

In 2018, the East-West Gateway Council of Governments completed the Northside-Southside Study, which examined light rail (LRT) investment in a corridor connecting Goodfellow and I-70 on the northside of the City of St. Louis to Bayless and I-55 on the southside. This conceptual design study was an 18-month effort that built upon the recommendations of a 2008 Northside-Southside corridor study, updating that earlier corridor with alternatives that would serve the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) campus in North St. Louis. After completing the study’s technical analysis, cost estimates, and community outreach, a recommended first phase of this updated Northside-Southside LRT was identified in 2018. That first phase – extending from Natural Bridge and Grand on the north to Jefferson and Chippewa on the south – was approved by the Council Board as the updated Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for this project in August 2018.

In 2022, the City of St. Louis administration acted upon the 2017 voter-approved dedicated sales tax to invest in Northside-Southside light rail project, commissioning an updated study of this transit corridor post-pandemic. This study, which wrapped in late 2023, conducted 15% design work of a Northside-Southside corridor with the same termini as the 2018 LPA, but with the alignment remaining on Jefferson Avenue rather than traversing downtown.


Translate »