Park Place Boulevard in St. Louis Park was recently reconstructed by the developer of the West End commercial redevelopment project. I ride my bicycle along Park Place Blvd at least twice a day, so I’ve been watching the project closely. I’ll share my thoughts about the corridor, but then I’d like to hear some of yours. In case you haven’t been there to see it for yourself, yet, I’ve created a slide show:
There’s a lot to like about this project & the corridor. The wide sidewalks on the east side of Park Place Blvd between Gamble Drive and 16th Avenue look like they will be very pleasant. I like the brick pavers, the planting strips, the ornamental lighting, and some of the other pedestrian amenities, and I like that some of the retail storefronts will directly face the street. The landscaped median is a vast improvement over the previous concrete median. The pavement is well-striped, and the zebra-stripe crosswalks and pedestrian ramps are all ADA compliant – complete with audible pedestrian warnings and pedestrian countdown signals. All great stuff.
There are also a few things of which I’m not very fond – primarily the width of Park Place Boulevard and the difficulties that creates for pedestrians who wish to cross the corridor. Park Place is a 4-lane roadway, but it flares out to 7 lanes at the intersections (4 through lanes + 2 left-turn lanes + 1 right-turn lane). Park Place is about 100′ wide at the pedestrian crossings, making it a daunting challenge for even the swiftest of pedestrians. The curb radius at all the corners is much larger than I’d like, and the sidewalks on the east side of the corridor south of Gamble drive are simply inadequate.
Then there’s the mixed use trail on the west side of the corridor. It’s a nice-looking facility, and I’ve even seen several cyclists using it (and they appeared happy as clams), but I just can’t shake the feeling that sidepaths in urbanized areas are just generally a bad idea because of safety concerns at the intersections and the suburban streetscape it creates. Instead of constructing a mixed-use trail, I would have preferred a high-quality sidewalk – maybe even one similar to the sidewalks across the street. If a slow-riding cyclist wants to ride on empty sidewalks, well, I don’t have a problem with it – I just want everyone, especially the cyclist, to be clear that he or she is expected to behave like a pedestrian.
FYI, there was a planning study completed for the area (here), but it was completed after construction on the corridor had already begun and had little impact in the outcome of this project.
So what do you think of the corridor? What do you like? What do you dislike? What would you have done differently?