Manchester Road Great Streets Initiative
Cities of Ballwin, Ellisville, Wildwood and the West St. Louis County Chamber of Commerce (with the help of MoDot and East West Gateway) are defining the way for a better tomorrow by empowering our communities with the tools to secure economic sustainability, create interesting and memorable places and provide winning strategies for the future of our businesses.
Manchester Road: The great street got its start as a major thoroughfare 50 years ago…today we are still working to make our community a better place to live, work and play.
- Improve access management and safety.
- Accommodate increased traffic flow.
- Promote pedestrian infusion (traffic medians/islands, sidewalks, way-finding signage, crosswalks etc.)
- Give the corridor identity.
- Consistent design themes within each city.
- New block numbering, way-finding, and identification signs.
- New sidewalk connections and multi-use trails.
- Re-surfaced roadway.
- Enhanced landscaping.
- Improved street lighting.
- Provide for multi-modal use with various transportation opportunities.
- Create people places.
- Provide high service roadway functionality, decreasing commute times and accidents.
- Create roadway character.
- Provide aesthetic upgrades that encourages investment by private and public sectors.
- Revitalize and repurpose under utilized areas.
- Create purpose
- Create synergy.
- Create a destination.
- Create economic activity.
- Create identities, vision and branding.
- Create sustainably for the next 25 – 50 years.
- Create tangible assets to market west St. Louis County
- Create business retention and recruitment.
In 2007 the West St. Louis County Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with the cities of Manchester, Winchester, Ballwin, Ellisville, and Wildwood submitted a joint application to the East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWG) to be included as a demonstration project for the Great Streets Initiative that EWG had undertaken. The project would entail the portion of Manchester Road between State Route 141 and State Route 109. Later that year, this project was selected as one of four demonstration projects across the St. Louis region to provide case studies for the Great Streets Initiative, which aims to solve one of the region’s toughest transportation challenges.
What is the Great Streets Initiative?
The St. Louis Great Streets Initiative is a project that encourages community leaders to use their streets to create connections and centers of economic and social activity. Great streets in St. Louis emphasize the safe coexistence of all modes of travel, including vehicular, pedestrian, public transit and bicycling. This requires planners, designers, and developers to think differently about our streets. The Great Streets Initiative calls us all to address the auto-centric approach that has dominated our thinking over the years in order to transform these streets into great community resources.
What is a Great Street?
There are several characteristics of a “great street”, including:
Great Streets are representative of their places. A Great Street reflects the neighborhood through which it passes and has a scale and design appropriate to the character of the abutting properties and land uses.
Great Streets allow people to walk comfortably and safely. The pedestrian environment on, along and near the street is well-designed and well-furnished. The relationship between the street and its adjacent buildings is organic, conducive to walking, and inviting to people.
Great Streets contribute to the economic vitality of the city. Great Streets facilitate the interaction of people and the promotion of commerce. They serve as destinations, not just transportation channels. They are good commercial addresses and provide location value to businesses that power the local economy.
Great Streets are functionally complete. Great Streets support balanced mobility with appropriate provision for safe and convenient travel by all of the ground transportation modes: transit, walking, bicycling, personal motor vehicles and freight movement.
Great Streets provide mobility. Great Streets strike an appropriate balance among the three elements of modern mobility: through travel, local circulation and access. The right balance varies with the function of the street and the character of its neighborhoods and abutting properties.
Great Streets facilitate placemaking. Great Streets incorporate within them places that are memorable and interesting. These may include plazas, pocket parks, attractive intersections and corners, or simply wide sidewalks fostering an active street life.
Great Streets are green. Great Streets provide an attractive and refreshing environment by working with natural systems. They incorporate environmentally sensitive design standards and green development techniques, including generous provision of street trees and other plantings and application of modern storm water management practices.
Planning our Future
For the initial phase of the project, the municipalities and the EWG project team worked together to craft some ideas to improve the way that the corridor functions both for transportation uses and as a community and economic asset. A series of stakeholder meetings presented a range of strategic choices to begin the process of change along the corridor. “The Manchester Road Forum” in December 2007, was a six-hour event that included 40 representatives from the five communities and the Missouri Department of Transportation along with the project team.
Following an additional meeting on May 15, 2008 to discuss possible future solutions on Manchester Road the project team developed different concepts along the corridor. These concepts represented potential forms for future improvements along the corridor and include land use and transportation improvements that work together to create pulse nodes and to change feel and function of the roadway between major intersections.
Executing a scope of work like this for a corridor with so many different stakeholders will require careful attention to consensus building, communication, and a genuine desire to work together for the betterment of the entire corridor. Special effort will be made to involve the business, real estate, developer and property owner elements of the corridor, to ensure that any plan meets their needs and is attractive to the development community. In addition, significant public input from residents of all the communities will be encouraged.
The next phase of the project was to develop a comprehensive concept plan for the corridor. The majority of the funding was be provided via a grant from EWG; the local communities committed to a 20% matching share.
In 2009 the team hired the consultant team Design Workshop to do public visioning sessions around the cities for one year. Each session was designed to provide participants the opportunity to visit informational stations staffed by planners and engineers who would provide information on the project, address key issues, and accept comments from the community. They would also have the opportunity to participate in a polling exercise.
The consultant team retained by East West Gateway was charged with developing a Master Plan for an approximately 5-mile stretch of Manchester Road between Missouri Routes 141 and 109. Ultimately the municipalities involved (Manchester, Winchester, Ballwin, Ellisville, and Wildwood), as well as MoDOT and the West County Chamber of Commerce, can use the document as a blueprint for considering roadway and other infrastructure improvements and economic development strategies along the corridor. The consultant team, led by the urban design firm, Design Workshop, looked at ways to improve infrastructure, manage traffic and parking, increase the potential for economic development, make the corridor safer for pedestrians, and enhance aesthetics in an environmentally responsible manner. All comments received would be reviewed and considered as the design team begins developing alternatives for the Manchester Road Master Plan. Currently the cities of Ballwin, Ellisville and Wildwood have adopted the master plan.
Today the cities of Ballwin, Ellisville and Wildwood(Manchester and Winchester are not involved in this section of the project) are working in conjunction with a MoDOT $7.5 million resurfacing project from just west of Hwy. 141 in Manchester to Westglen Farms Drive in Wildwood. Both the resurfacing and the Great Streets project work will be put out to bid together in the spring of 2014, with work starting on both in mid summer ’14 and being completed up to a year and a half afterward.
The goal is to make Manchester Road a Great Street and a great destination in West County.