By. Chris Stritzel
Ah, it’s that time of year when the talk of the future of the region’s Rail System. While voters approved of a tax hike to fund the Northside-Southside MetroLink line, we are now just seeing the plan to get the system up and running within the next decade. It is an ambitious plan, but a plan that could produce great results for the City’s Northside. But while everyone worries, including myself about the overall safety about the system, an expansion could create an entirely different system. However, that is if we do it right. What do I mean by this?
I mean that this line could promote safety+devlolemt t his creating a welcoming and new system that can promote development that benefits those living on the neighborhoods and those visiting the neighborhoods thus growing the economy. It is a lot, I know, but those are the benefits in the way I see it. Besides this, we as a region really need to look forward to the full on economic boom this thing can bring along with it. But first, let me make something clear, out of pure speculation, I am going to refer to this route as the Orange Line for simplicity. Now back to the story.
The Line could include 30 stations. The route bough could be entirely different because of the NGA though. While it will not add or take away any stations, it will be a game changer if the study and design team takes into effect running the Orange Line along Jefferson rather than North Florrisant. As seen in the image above, the line cuts right through the hearts of the Northern side and Southern side of the City and right through Downtown. That in itself could be the key to promoting smart development. With the NGA route being taken into consideration, it would further promote redevelopment and development just because of the high profile location that it will run down by.
The Orange Line will be entirely different than the Blue and Red Lines. Why? It will not be on its own right if way until it is on Interstate 55. So, it will run in the street like a Streetcar, so the rail cars will have to be low floor to meet the lower platforms that will be constructed for the system. Because it runs in the street for a majority of the route, speed for the system will be reduced. Some will see this as a good thing while some see it as a bad thing. In all, it would help more people look at things that they otherwise would ignore. Continuing, because of all of these things being taken into consideration, the rail cars willl have to be entirely different which means new cars will be coming as part of this planned line. Below is the conceptual design of the new rail cars.
Put the new design of the railcars, the route and the stations and book, you have prime real estate situated next to the route that developers will find to good to pass up. This will lead to major overhauls of neighborhoods and more and eventually lead to a healthier, more walkable St. Louis. Now back to safety. In order to make this a reality, Metro must look at making the system more safe. How can they do that? Be sure to include a paid City officer on the train at all times since it will be in the City a majority of the route. Also, make sure the trains and the stations are well lit so any vandalism or crime that takes place is noticed and caught on camera, becuase a clean system is a happy system!
While the studies are now just beginning, and if they are all good and if financing is laid out successfully, we could see construction begin in 2023 and a completion in 2027. Nearly 10 years away. And who knows, maybe by then, the demand for another line will grow and we will have two new lines. But until then, we have the Orange Line to look forward to.
If you you would like to learn more about the new Orange Line, click the button below to read the organizations grand plan.