East-West Gateway approves $5 million for MetroLink expansion studies | St. Louis Public Radio

East-West Gateway approves $5 million for MetroLink expansion studies

Aug 31, 2016

East-West Gateway Council of Governments will conduct studies on five MetroLink expansion proposals.
Credit East-West Gateway Council of Governments

St. Louis County will be chipping in to study a possible light rail expansion that would run south from Ferguson through downtown St. Louis to the Meramec River.

The East-West Gateway Council of Governments on Wednesday agreed to include the county’s stretch of the Northside-Southside proposal among multiple conceptual design studies planned to begin late this fall.

“Part of the reason the city and the county have asked East-West Gateway to manage these studies is that, if we have separate teams of consultants doing them, we can ensure they’ll be talking to one another and there will be some coordination going on between these studies and those corridors,” said Executive Director Jim Wild.

The research is funded with $2 million from St. Louis Parking Division funds and $3 million in sales taxes from the St. Louis County. Last month the St. Louis County Council approved spending money from the Proposition A sales-tax fund to pay for studying three routes. Those proposals include extending the Blue Line west from Clayton to Westport Plaza; a south county expansion from Shrewsbury to Butler Hill Road and extending the Red Line north from North Hanley Station to just south of Interstate 270. County Executive Steve Stenger said he also wants the studies to consider a short transit route across Ferguson that would connect the Northside-Southside corridor to an extension of the existing rail system. 

“We could have a route that has great practical importance and also a route that has a real symbolism attached to it and that would be a small connector route that would run from our Metro North route in the county that’s being proposed and it would go east ... to the Northside-Southside route," Stenger told St. Louis Public Radio.

The city and county's co-efforts to study the expansion proposal marks more cooperation between the two governing entities. 

Earlier this summer, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay rallied support for funding a study of the Northside-Southside corridor, but Stenger said he would not endorse it, insisting three shorter expansion proposals in the county should also be considered in planning region-wide infrastructure. 

"I was never against the Northside-Southside route," Stenger said. "But I did argue against the process that was utilized, frankly, by the mayor, to in some way declare that was the regional route and I understand that’s the route that he wants, but we also have other routes that need to be considered.”

According to East-West Gateway, all expansion corridors to be studied have had some level of previous study. 

  • Northside-Southside: The corridor extends south from the area of Goodfellow/I- 70 to Bayless/I-55. Most of the corridor is within the City of St. Louis. A conceptual design study for the corridor was completed in 2008. The intent of the present study is to reaffirm and update the earlier study’s findings and to examine an alternative that would serve the proposed National Geospatial Intelligence Agency site. 
  • MetroSouth: The corridor extends south from the Shrewsbury MetroLink station to Butler Hill. An Alternatives Analysis/Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the corridor was completed in 2005. The intent of the present study is to reaffirm and update the earlier study’s findings.
  • Daniel Boone: The corridor extends west from Clayton to the Westport area. A Major Transportation Investment Analysis for the corridor was completed in 1999. The intent of the present study is to confirm the alignment and update the earlier study’s findings.
  • MetroNorth: The corridor extends north from the existing MetroLink route, at or in the vicinity of the Hanley station, to I-270, either near I-170 or the Ferguson area. The corridor was part of the Cross-County Major Transportation Investment Analysis completed in the mid-1990s. The intent of the present study is to define and study the most promising light rail alignment in the corridor. 
  • Northside: The corridor extends north from the area of Goodfellow/I-70 to St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley and west to the MetroNorth northern termini. A significant portion of this corridor was part of a Northside locally preferred alternative completed in 2000. The intent of the present study is to confirm the alignment and update the earlier study’s findings.

East West Gateway's Jim Wild said the North-South corridor study will begin in November and take 18 months to complete. The others listed, he said, are planned to begin in December and last about a year. 

Follow Joseph Leahy on Twitter: @joemikeleahy