November 29, 2017
South Grand Boulevard Named “Great Street” by American Planning Association
APA honors 15 places that celebrate stories of exemplary planning
South Grand Boulevard was recently recognized by the American Planning Association as a Great Street. Celebrating planning excellence and the ability to accommodate all users, the Great Street designation has been given to iconic streets like Broadway and Fifth Avenue in New York, Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., and Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood.
Grand Boulevard is one of the most heavily trafficked streets in the City of St. Louis; Metro counts its Grand bus line as the busiest in the area (more than 9,000 passengers board daily). The 9.2 mile street connects drivers to numerous attractions from Grand Center to Dutchtown. Tucked away between Arsenal and Utah lies South Grand, an entertainment district of only six blocks with restaurants, shopping and small businesses. Proximity to Tower Grove Park makes for a very walkable neighborhood. Featuring authentic cuisine from 14 countries, South Grand is arguably the most diverse neighborhood in the City, and until recently, a dangerous thoroughfare for both pedestrians and motorists.
In 2011, residents and business owners along South Grand recognized the threat posed to them by traffic in the area. According to a traffic study, South Grand was seeing an average of 80 vehicular accidents each year. With a posted limit of 25 miles per hour, the average driving speed was 42 mph. At that time, the South Grand Community Improvement District lobbied for the adoption of their own Great Streets Initiative.
Horner & Shifrin teamed with Design Workshop, a landscape architecture and urban design firm, to create a plan for South Grand, with goals of improving pedestrian safety, calming traffic and enhancing the overall aesthetic of the area. Lanes of traffic were reduced from four to three. Sidewalks were widened to accommodate increased pedestrian traffic and outdoor dining. Crosswalk safety was enhanced through the use of curb extensions. Pedestrian access was designed to be ADA compliant, with new curb ramps and striping. Green infrastructure techniques were incorporated into the design, including pervious pavement and new landscaping, which help to reduce stormwater runoff and improve aesthetics of the area.
After the improvements were implemented, the area began to see immediate results in the form of a decrease in traffic and an increase in revenue. South Grand has experienced a 25% reduction in traffic, and it’s projected to see accident rates decrease by 74%. Since the Great Streets Initiative was adopted in 2011, the area has seen a 35% increase in sales at local businesses.