Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
The East-West Gateway Council of Governments is the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for the St. Louis region. In recent decades, the population in the eight-county region has grown modestly as large numbers of residents have moved from the urban core of the City of St. Louis to suburban counties. This, combined with declines in manufacturing, has left the core with considerable numbers of vacant buildings with hazardous building materials (including asbestos) and brownfield sites, which have negative effects on the human and natural environment.
The region has made good progress toward complying with EPA air-quality standards for ozone, but has continuing problems with other categories of pollutants. As St. Louis lies at the confluence of two major rivers and is centrally located in the United States, the region has long been an important freight center. Most of the region's freight moves by truck, yet rail and barge play an important role in moving bulk commodities; the Port of St. Louis is the second largest inland port in the United States by tonnage, and there are seven primary rail-to-truck transfer points in the region.
"Legacy 2025," the long-range transportation plan (LRTP) for the region, clearly maps the connections between serving the freight sector and moving toward the goal of increasing economic competitiveness and improving the number of and access to jobs and educational opportunities. Maintaining reliable and affordable transit service is important for inner-city, low-income residents. Yet regional transit faces declining ridership, shrinking revenues, and aging fleets. In a region facing a number of challenges, the plan takes a positive yet realistic tone and a fiscally conservative stance by focusing on preserving existing infrastructure and improving operations.
Safety for Both the User and the Community: The plan documents and analyzes high crash rates for all modes. The plan also includes a section on transit safety, which includes injuries at transit stops, personal security issues (e.g., crime), and incidents involving transit vehicles. The plan approaches travel safety by first framing the specific safety issue, rather than assuming that the solution lies solely with infrastructure changes. The Haddon Matrix, a simple tool for determining appropriate strategies to improve transportation safety, is adapted to identify policies and actions that will address safety holistically. Linking the matrix with the crash data analysis reveals that the most effective way to improve travel safety in the region will be to focus on driver behavior factors in addition to making infrastructure improvements.Limitations to Data and Information are Recognized, and Strategies to Manage Gaps Implemented/Plan and Process are Thoroughly Documented: The importance of freight to the region's economy means that the transportation plan must give close attention to freight issues. Yet the freight industry has been reluctant to participate in the planning process, declining to provide data that it considers proprietary. To remedy this situation, the MPO collected information via a survey of freight firms about general concerns and an aerial survey of truck density on major highways. These data have informed the development of a priority goods movement network (PGMN)—a map of important shippers, receivers, and facilities. Despite the lack of comprehensive freight data, the PGMN allows the LRTP to include freight needs in the evaluation criteria for proposed projects.
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