March 10, 2010

A Grand New MetroLink Station: Scott Avenue Transit Plaza Project

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Grand Bridge at Metro Bus stop.

Current conditions on Grand Avenue Viaduct.

MetroLink’s Grand Avenue Station is about to undergo a substantial redesign with exciting improvements to become the Scott Avenue Transit Plaza – all while the City of St. Louis replaces the Grand Avenue Viaduct with its own exciting design over the MetroLink tracks.

In cooperation and conjunction with the City’s project, Metro is at the same time improving the MetroLink Station, bus waiting area, and passenger amenities: The Scott Avenue Transit Plaza Project!

The project details:

  • Wind and rain shelters on the bridge for Metro customers;
  • Removal of on-street parking on Scott Avenue at the MetroLink Station and creation of a 50-70 car park and ride lot;
  • Removal of current bus shelters on Scott Avenue;
  • Construction of a new transit plaza with seating, vending area, landscaping, and public restrooms;
  • Access to MetroLink platform will be changed from east end to west end;
  • Elevator and stair towers will be moved north, so they touch down in the new plaza area rather than on the MetroLink platform, for better visibility and line of sight;
  • New bus turnout area at the new transit plaza;
  • Improved and pedestrian-scale, more welcoming lighting;
  • Funded by FTA capital grants (money that can’t be used to support operations, in other words) and local match (required to get federal capital dollars).

Meanwhile, the City of St. Louis will be replacing  the six undivided lanes with four divided lanes plus dedicated bus pullouts (no more buses stopped in traffic on the bridge!), widening sidewalks, and improving pedestrian accommodations on the bridge. The city’s intent is to make this a “signature bridge” for St. Louis.

The new transit plaza area will be built under the bridge where the bridge piers (supports) are located now. (Those piers will be removed when the City demolishes the current bridge.) If you’re finding this hard to visualize, please check out the nifty slideshow we put together for Saint Louis University about this project.

Scott Avenue Transit Plaza CCP Feb 09 2010 (2)

Detail of decorative iron fence made to look like grass or reeds.

Decorative "organic-feeling" iron fencing.

Metro is working with an artist, Barbara Grygutis, who has helped make the design of the plaza more “organic” and welcoming, with touches like enhancing the fence to a decorative iron fence and using different colored paving stones, including some clear blue stones that will be lit from below with LED lights. Ms. Grygutis will also create a lit art piece in her unique style that will help enhance the area. Check out her website for some images of her previous work. Ms. Grygutis’s work on the project is funded from the 1% public art and enhancement funds as required by federal guidelines.

Metro’s project team, overseen by Senior Project Manager Jerry Wittenauer, also includes the engineering firm Horner & Shifrin, as well as The Lawrence Group and its sister company, Austin Tao & Associates.

25 thoughts on “A Grand New MetroLink Station: Scott Avenue Transit Plaza Project”

  1. Herbie says:

    With the parking lot on the east side of the station, why not keep the east side access point? Would save people at least 200 feet and 40 seconds of walking.

  2. Adam says:

    Looking good! And great choice of artist – I really like her other works. Can’t wait to see this finished!

  3. Jennifer says:

    Hi Herbie, take a look at the design sheet in the slideshow and you’ll see how the pedestrian flow works. The new entrance will be directly across the street from the new plaza. Also, it puts pedestrians crossing in front of a (stopped) outbound train rather than a (moving) incoming train – just works better that way!

  4. David says:

    This is great. Funny how some minor tweaking and adding amenities can improve the transit experience for users. It would be great to see improvements like this at all metrolink stations and it is critical that these sorts of things are included from the very begining for any tranist expansion in the region. One MAJOR thing I notice missing is bike storage; is it just not called out in the slideshow or is it missing altogether. That would be a huge missed opportunity…

  5. Daron says:

    This is fantastic. This kind of thing need to happen a long time ago. Does SLU have any part in this? I’ve always felt that it would be in their interest to invest in the station and put Bilikins all over it. Their campus is cut in half with only this bridge to connect them. I don’t know why UMSL and SLU have been so uninterested in better using the resource available to them. Investing in the metrolink means not investing in parking garages.

    Is there any possibility of some anchoring TOD next to this plaza?

    How do I get down there by bike? The route suggested on google maps doesn’t look promising.

    Metro runs Wash U’s shuttles, but not SLU’s right? I’m still holding the idea that if all the universities in the area pooled their money, and metro had a good plan, we could have a great public mini-bus system. All it takes is for these schools to realize that being a non-profit with a service mission has some overlap with developing the city and helping people to get around.

  6. Brian says:

    Looks pretty good from what I can see except for the wind and rain shelters. Those look ugly in the designs and I can’t imagine what they would look like after 10 years and all the rust. They should incorporate some plexi glass or translucent plastic for the stairs and shelter.

  7. Brian says:

    there was talk about bike lanes earlier, but no mention in the slideshow.

    1. Courtney says:

      The slide show focuses on Metro’s side of the improvements to the area, so I’m not sure what the city’s exact plan is for the road deck in terms of bike lanes. I could probably find out. As for bike storage, I will pass that idea along to our capital projects department. As we know from our friends in the SLU Urban Planning Department, a lot of students bike around town and hopefully we can work out good, feasible accommodations for bikes.

  8. Jimmy Z says:

    I’m not quite sure what you guys were smoking, but moving the elevators off of the Metrolnk platform seems to be a big step backwards. Sure, the new plaza under the new viaduct is artistic, but the biggest problem to date here has been security, especially in the elevator cab (aka public restroom), and moving them across Scott will simply mean fewer eyes on the problem and a longer walk for all Grand bus riders.

  9. Anon says:

    I believe SLU is putting up part of the required matching funds. Bike lanes please!

  10. Adam says:

    i’m going to have to agree with brian about the preliminary shelter design -it’s too busy and hulking and intimidating and ugly IMHO. i do like the trellis-looking thing behind the shelter though. perhaps the trellis could just be continue up and over the sidewalk? one continuous arc?

  11. nA says:

    Bike racks SHOULD be in the agenda.

  12. Jennifer says:

    JimmyZ, smoking is not allowed on MetroLink or MetroLink platforms.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Just kidding, Jim. Actually, improving line-of-sight is one of the reasons for the removal. There will be a new guard shack constructed near the vending area to protect our fellas from the weather; having the elevators moved north to the plaza area ensures clear line-of-sight to the entire platform. Also, if you notice on Slide 9 (taken from an operator’s perspective) it will make it safer from an operator’s point of view to not have the elevators bulking up the platform.

    With regard to the elevators themselves, they will be the newer models that we use that don’t have the urine problem. And also we are adding public restrooms to further alleviate the need.

  14. Jennifer says:

    Regarding bikes, our Project Manager tells me there really is no good route down to the station (just like now) so we recommend bikers use the (new, improved) elevators down to the station level. Our PM worked with St. Louis Bike Fed to determine what racks would be appropriate and we’re going with the helix-style rack – we like it because it provides space for multiple bikes in a compact location, and does so in a way that offers two points of contact with each bike so you can lock up both front and back wheels. Once everything is up & going, if there is a need for further bike storage, we will add another rack or (depending on demand) consider further measures. Also because the plaza will be under the bridge the bikes will be relatively sheltered from inclement weather.

    As Courtney mentioned, the road deck of the bridge and the road below are both City issues so bike accommodation questions should be addressed to the City.

  15. Jimmy Z says:

    Any enclosed area at a public transit facility is a potential problem area. Adding public restrooms and moving the elevators away from the most-populated area (the platform) are both problems in waiting. (My previous comment on line of sight was not about onto the platform, it was from the platform into the elevator cab[s].) Ideally, the new elevator cabs will have at least one glass wall, so any activity inside can be observed from the outside. As for “the [new] elevators themselves, they will be the newer models that we use that don’t have the urine problem.” Please explain – will they have floors made of metal grates? 😉 The elevators are used here more than at other stops because the are no escalators and because it’s, what 2-3 stories between the platform and Grand Ave.

  16. Jennifer says:

    Grand Station is part of the original (we call it Phase 1) alignment and the kind of elevators we used for that phase are metal walls & floors backed by plywood. Our guys have repeatedly replaced the plywood and have taken to sealing around the floor so anything spilled in the elevator doesn’t seep into the plywood. But we don’t use those kinds of elevators any more; the newer ones don’t have the same issues. Believe me when I tell you that we are well aware of the issues and we work hard to fix them. We use the system too, you know. The PM on this project rides MetroLink every day.

    The elevators have to be torn down because of elevation changes in the bridge. Since we’re tearing them down anyway (and because the cars have outlived their useful life), and because of the configuration of the plaza and the line-of-sight issues discussed above, there’s a lot of good reasons to move the elevator towers further north (not least of which being where the bus turnouts are going to be located up on the bridge deck). Plus, the elevators will all be clear so people on the platform and in the plaza will be able to see into them.

    Because of how our security patrols, the issue is more making sure he/she can see the platform from the plaza, because that’s probably where he/she will spend most of the time. The guard patrols the plaza but can look over to the platform area and keep an eye on things there. Moving the elevator towers off the platform to the plaza helps with that.

  17. A.Torch says:

    I am glad to see some of these improvements, also glad to hear of the restrooms. Can you tell me why the new Shrewsbury Station was built without any restrooms. Metro is just asking for trouble…

  18. Jimmy Z says:

    Budget! It costs money to build them, it costs money to keep them clean and supplied with TP, and it costs money to fix them after they’re vandalized. It also costs money for security, since they’re great places for illegal sex acts, among other crimes. Which raises the question of why they’re being added on this project, especially given Metro’s financial challenges?!

    1. Courtney says:

      I was told that there is a good chance the restrooms at the Scott Transit Plaza will be pay toilets, similar to European transit stations.

  19. Daron says:

    I’m a fan of pay toilets. CCTV in the bathroom isn’t cool, but paying a dollar gets in separates the emergencies from the silliness.

  20. Brian says:

    no one using pay toilets will be the ones we want to use toilets (AKA urine puddles won’t disappear). Not to mentions THIS IS UHHH MERRRR ICKKK KAAHHHH!!!! I spent 2 months in Europe this summer. Even though it was usually only a dollar, I got pretty ticked when someone charged me to use a public restroom. When I got back to the states, every time I had to go to the bathroom, I walked out of my house to a grocery store, gas station, or park near by and used it. It felt good to be able to …. for free. It’s the 11th amendment to our bill of rights. The service charge of using a restroom is strictly for Europe and other commi’s — THIS IS AMERICA!!! Worst experience ever was when I was on a train in Greece – 8 hours long and no TP in the restroom, I held it in and when I got out I found a nearby bathroom, with a 1 euro fee. Too my body’s disapproval I had to walk 20 minutes to the nearest ATM and return. When I walked in and paid the lady, she gave me 2 feet of TP and pointed to stall covered only on 3 sides with a hole on the floor. I wish I could have had the dirtiest gas station toilet over that.

  21. Jeff says:

    Could you tell us if the station will be open during construction? What will be the operational plan during the bridge reconstruction of Metro.

  22. Jennifer says:

    Jeff, the station will likely be closed during construction. If that is the case, the Grand bus will be rerouted to the Central West End MetroLink station for about a five minute delay, according to our planners. With the demolition going on overhead and the construction on the platform and Scott Avenue, it would be very unsafe for our patrons in that area. MetroLink will be running a normal schedule (though at reduced speed in the immediate vicinity of the bridge work) through the station, just not stopping there. And there will be a few bus bridges for the demo work that can’t be done safely with MetroLink running underneath. Those will be minimized and will be planned for weekends so as to inconvenience as few of our customers as possible. We are working very closely with the City to coordinate all of this work and the City knows that our highest priorities are the safety and convenience of our customers. According to our agreement with the City, any work that affects the new plaza area will be prioritized so that we can get in there and get our stuff done and get the station reopened ASAP, when we deem that it’s safe again.

    Re: pay toilets, that’s just one of the options on the table. There are others being considered. I would love to provide more details, since the toilet seems to be of great interest, and will do so on this blog when the decisions are made. I am forwarding everyone’s comments to the PM though so he’s getting public feedback on all of these points. Re: toilets in Europe, I had a great experience with pay toilets last summer when I was there for three weeks. They were very clean and not vandalized. But I had read in my travel guide to bring my own TP, which I found was good advice, so I carried a small roll of that biodegradable camping TP, and a little container of paper soap. Those two things greatly enhanced my ability to use European facilities.

  23. Brian says:

    Exactly my point.

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