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Why St. Louis Should Stop Turning Its Street Grid Into Cul-De-Sacs [VIDEO]

Categories: Of the People

streetnotthru.JPG
Lindsay Toler
We could have two cul-de-sacs facing each other, or St. Louis could open up the streets and heal the grid.
Sometimes, getting around St. Louis by car feels like driving in a maze.

A straight line is not the shortest path from one neighborhood street to another when the road is blocked off by planters, barriers and Schoemehl pots -- the concrete sewer pipes filled with dirt named for former mayor Vincent Schoemehl -- to make a cul-de-sac.

An electrical engineer and the man behind the @STLUnite Twitter feed, Richard Bose, says if he had his druthers, St. Louis would ditch the cutoffs, open up the streets and, as he puts it, "heal the grid."

See also: Green Means Grow: Gateway Garlic Turns Old Traffic Signals into Grow Lights

"The grid is an outcome of millennia of urban building, and it turns out to be the most efficient way to arrange cities," Bose tells Daily RFT. But in some St. Louis neighborhoods, the grid is instead a series of cul-de-sacs. "If you explore the city, you run into this all over the place."

Bose argues that when city officials cut off neighborhood streets from one another, they only worsen the problems the cutoffs were supposed to fix in the first place -- especially traffic congestion. In a nine-minute video, he compiles all the Google Street images he can find of streets blocked by barriers:

"It makes traffic worse," Bose says. "Streets like that are more of an infrastructure burden because their utility is only for the residents there. Whatever street traffic would have gone through that area has to find a new place to go."

Bose says he sees this every day during rush hour at Forest Park Parkway and Skinker Boulevard, where surrounding cut-off cul-de-sacs force more cars onto the two nearby arterial roads.

"You get dumped out onto these bigger streets, and it makes rush hour worse," he says.

That's not to say all of St. Louis' faux cul-de-sacs should be opened, Bose admits. He points to the 4500 block of Oakland Avenue, where blocking off the street helped with the drive-through drug dealing coming to the neighborhood from the nearby highway.

"I'm never going to say we should open them all right now," Bose says.

But turning through streets into cul-de-sacs might not be as effective in deterring crime as you think, Bose says. See why on page two.


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90 comments
MO_AaronD
MO_AaronD

If the StL street crew had a clue this city could be a lot better than it is.  The incompetence sometimes baffles me.  And their excuses on the STLTODAY chats make them look even more foolish.  Like Dooley in the county, does anyone else think Frannie has spent enough time in office.  New blood.  New ideas.

Tony Merklin
Tony Merklin

.....actually St Louis' way of Cutting Down Crime.......Inconvenient, but it does Work.....learned that in Planning & Research Dept/ StLPD, long time ago (in a Galaxy Far, Far Away).......

Jason Ledet
Jason Ledet

Safer for a select few while statistically causing more traffic. Why live in a city if you actually can't handle a city? Operation keep the soccer moms from a possible drive by. Any urban planning course will show you that it is scientifically proven that blockades disjoint communities and cause urban decay.

Scott Weber
Scott Weber

Yes. It's scientifically & statistically proven to be safer

Genia Ackworth
Genia Ackworth

And the light and roads by SLU, Reinert and the old Del Taco bldg. are a disaster waiting to happen. One road blocks an on-ramp right at the stop light. When it turns green there are several vehicles that then have to stop. It's crazy. Who is the city engineer responsible for this chaos? There was a stop sign near where I worked. They started work and removed the stop sign. After seeing several potential accidents I called around until I got the streets dept. They put a stop sign out the next day. It was in a trash can but nonetheless they put one out.

Joshua Steinmetz
Joshua Steinmetz

I live on Shaw Blvd. I like that my street doesn't cut off but I also like that the other streets in Shaw do. It makes walks nice without crazy traffic. I'm sure folks in the middle of the neighborhood appreciate their blocks aren't used as shortcuts off Grand or Tower Grove.

Catherine Betz
Catherine Betz

These funnel all the traffic onto the same streets and make the jams worse. And forget trying to navigate a neighborhood you're unfamiliar with. I would love to see more of our street grids open up. After all, we pay taxes for all city streets - not just the blocks we live on.

Edward Hecker
Edward Hecker

Anyone who lives in the city uses the alleys, which are not cul-de-sac'd, to get around, anyway.

Bridget Scott
Bridget Scott

they need to stop it. if an emergency occurs this can be confusing for ems, fire dept or the police . remember the situation in south st Louis city when ems wasn't able to reach the victim in a time because of street grid.

Ashley Manzy
Ashley Manzy

This has been done for years this didn't just started. If one end of a street isn't blocked off; a street can go one way after so many blocks it stops and go the opposite directions.

Phil Janovick
Phil Janovick

Soooo many of the streets in this city are ass backwards with stoplights on one way streets to where the city is too lazy to take the once 2 way traffic lights down &&& they continue to work..... WTH is that ????? Stop signs at intersections of one ways where no traffic SHOULD be coming from...... this sounds as convoluted as the city's roads....... ;-)

Jason Ledet
Jason Ledet

None of the streets here make any sense. I see stop signs at one ways, red lights that take over five mins to change, and off ramps that combine three exits. I thought Memphis was bad, but this city creates some of the worst drivers. Everyday I am almost hit by someone not wanting to wait at a long light or a useless stop sign.

Christopher McIntosh
Christopher McIntosh

As a relative newcomer to St. Louis, I was at first perturbed by this perplexing display of craziness... as I've learned the roads better, I've realized the value in what had once seemed mayhem. I've come to appreciate it and now embrace it as a part of the city's "skyline."

Heather Robison
Heather Robison

I work at an office on 39th. It makes traffic on that street crazy busy. And people are like, drag racing between stop signs. If they would open the streets it would spread the traffic out. And it wouldn't back Shaw up at the light so bad, or Magnolia.

Couch Pig
Couch Pig

awesome makes it hard to play real life gta while hitting 3 am bars all night..

John Skaggs
John Skaggs

They might deter someone with money wanting to move into the neighborhood because they don't want to make a 3 point turn to get out of their street and they also probably don't want to live in an area that has these things in place because of crime.

John Skaggs
John Skaggs

Most of the robberies and crime are done on foot, so these blockades don't really deter crime. And I believe that is Gibson Ave in the Grove, in the pic, if I'm not mistaken.

Kathryn Bense
Kathryn Bense

Makes drive by shooting a bit harder , slows the flow of non neigbors

Scott C Loyd
Scott C Loyd

Cause its frees king rerouting bull crap

Winston Freiberger
Winston Freiberger

How about the city get serious about fighting crime. Then there's no need for barriers . Invest in officers, education and urban renewal. Otherwise it won't matter what you put up or take down.

Jason King IAm Glover
Jason King IAm Glover

Helps who....If the criminal not familiar with that area then yes it'll probably help. But at the same time if you not a criminal and you happen to get lost over there at night you can easily be a victim.

Karyn Hernandez
Karyn Hernandez

how do fire trucks get to were they need to go quick ??????

Matt Freeman
Matt Freeman

Always wondered if I would ever be strong enough to pick up one of those concrete balls.

Genia Ackworth
Genia Ackworth

That's probably how it started but not the way it ended. A Black politician had them put in his neighborhood too. I saw it and was told so by residents after I got stuck on his street with no where to turn around.

Genia Ackworth
Genia Ackworth

Ghetto is behavior, no longer where you live. A person can act ghetto anywhere.

Genia Ackworth
Genia Ackworth

And if more people realized that being united beats crime more than divided we fall, their neighborhoods would be a better place.

Genia Ackworth
Genia Ackworth

That's a bunch of malarkey. I don't know who advised you to do it. Most criminals are on foot. If they case your area all they'll do is park somewhere else and run to their vehicles. You need to come up with a Plan B.

Genia Ackworth
Genia Ackworth

When I worked in St. Louis I found it ludicrous that two-way streets could be turned into 'one-way' with no signs anywhere. No where to turn around once you got to the end and found a concrete barrier. They've got to do better than this and stop allowing it to happen. A street is a road for a reason. If they're trying to keep drugs out they need to come up with another idea. Narrow city streets are not conducive to turning them into 'gated' neighborhoods.

Wayne Light
Wayne Light

Maybe you should work toward the reason" why" they are there. Then consider moving them.

Mary Struttman
Mary Struttman

This is actually a good article! I only moved to south county a little while ago, but definitely hate the barriers already!

David J. McCutcheon
David J. McCutcheon

All of the criminals we encountered were on foot, so it made it worse on cops. They actually removed these unsightly boulders after their trial period when they discovered they were a miserable failure.

David J. McCutcheon
David J. McCutcheon

When I lived in the city and they began doing this, it made it much more difficult to get emergency help from paramedics and firemen. The cops took twice as long, but they always arrived well after you needed help and never gave a shit to begin with.

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

Every time I visit my old hometown, it gets harder to get around.  Street that were once open are now closed.  It hurts the city when people cannot get around because of these.

Matt Bailey
Matt Bailey

They were actually put up because it was a preventive measure to help stop drive by shootings in neighborhoods with high gang representations. This was in the prime of the blood and crips era of gangs . This was the reason they gave to us in the letter from the city right before they put them at the end of our street .

Lara Shore Dierker
Lara Shore Dierker

I'd like Nate to know, because no one has apparently told him, when a woman says "whatever" in a non-valley-girl tone she is basically saying "no point in talking about this with you anymore, because you don't get it". Hope this helps in your future communications. So you won't have to make assumptions that are in reality WRONG.

Dean Berry
Dean Berry

Laughable that people bought the excuse that these were put up to improve traffic flow. They were erected by white homeowners in an effort to section off their neighborhood and street from the spread of black people driving through and buying homes in their neighborhood. As you can see, this insular and panicked mindset failed miserably for them, as these sectioned off neighborhoods are now often majority black and poor. It's time to reopen these streets (the ones that aren't private anyway) and give these neighborhoods a chance to flourish again.

Richard Graeff
Richard Graeff

ps Nate, the city alone could not support pro sports without the residents of St. Louis County! It's unfortunate you're not as intelligent as you think you are!

Jon Dewitt
Jon Dewitt

My grandpa lived in the heart of St. Louis his entire life. He was a VET and he was a bit racist. His neighbor was also a VET and he was black. He was racist too. But at the end of it when my grandpa passed away that guy was right there at the funeral to pay his respects. Mostly they just wanted to keep the ghetto out of their neighborhood.

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