Community Engagement with Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood
Since 2015, Trailnet has worked alongside residents, elected officials, and organizations within the Jeff-Vander-Lou (JVL) neighborhood in North St. Louis to demonstrate and plan for several neighborhood improvements. Several improvements Trailnet and residents began planning and advocating for 2015 are finally came to fruition in 2021 and 2020.
The work in JVL kicked off in 2015 when Trailnet, the Missouri Chapter of the American Planning Association, the HEAL partnership, and the City of St. Louis hosted four pop-up traffic calming demonstrations across the City of St. Louis. Jeff-Vander-Lou, one of the four identified neighborhoods, demonstrated a neighborhood roundabout and chicanes (street narrowers) at the corner of Sheridan and Garrison Avenue with the goal of slowing down neighborhood traffic.
The demonstration proved extremely successful. Along Sheridan and Garrison, average traffic speeds dropped over 2 MPH, and complete stops increase from 48% to 63%, when compared to conditions before the demonstration. Several elected officials, like former Mayor Francis Slay, and key City staff, attended the demonstration. This allowed JVL residents to speak directly with the people responsible for funding and implementing traffic solutions across the City. Shortly after the demonstration in the Spring of 2016, several new speed humps were installed along Garrison Avenue in front of Dunbar Elementary and Ms. Tillies Corner, two JVL landmarks.
After the demonstration and the new speed humps, Trailnet continued to engage with partners and residents at community events throughout 2017 – 2019 like the annual Ms. Tillie’s Health Fair. 2020 brought revived momentum for traffic calming projects. Throughout the previous years, several residents noted excessive speeding and stop sign running throughout the neighborhood. The fence surrounding Ms. Tillie’s Corner was unfortunately hit by a driver speeding through the intersection of Garrison and Sheridan exposing that more infrastructure was needed throughout the neighborhood.
Trailnet staff attended several JVL neighborhood meetings and met with several residents and elected officials to determine which locations were of high priority and what types of infrastructure they preferred to slow down traffic. Through these conversations, an initial plan to implement a roundabout (similar to what was demonstrated during the 2015 pop-up) at the corner of Dayton and Glasgow, near the corner of Fresh Starts Community Garden and the Gamble Center. Trailnet and residents began an aggressive advocacy push to fund the roundabout project and other traffic calming solutions.
During this advocacy push, Trailnet worked with other partners in the JVL neighborhood to implement small-scale projects and identify gaps in the current sidewalk network. Trailnet partnered with the City of St. Louis Health Department and Columbia Elementary to purchase 20 new trees, “Stop for Pedestrian” signage to be placed in front of the school, and supplies to beautify two planter pots near the school. Trailnet staff also began an analysis of the existing sidewalk conditions in the JVL neighborhood to identify areas for sidewalk improvement. Every sidewalk from Natural Bridge Avenue to St. Louis Avenue (along Vandeventer to Glasgow Ave) was assessed and mapped by Trailnet staff.
The end of 2021 brought good news for JVL residents with secured funding for the roundabout at Dayton and Glasgow. The construction of the roundabout, which finished in February 2022, brought much-needed traffic calming to an intersection in which most cars did not stop at the stop sign. Even with the roundabout finally constructed after almost 7 years of advocacy the work in JVL is not complete. N. Grand, which runs right through the heart of JVL, has been identified as a high crash corridor by Trailnet’s Crash Reports and the intersection of Grand & Montogomery has been analyzed as the 7th most dangerous intersection in the United States. North Grand and several other neighborhood streets are in desperate need of traffic calming interventions in the near future and Trailnet continues to work with the JVL residents to push elected officials and city staff to fund and implement projects in JVL.