Maplewood officials stress safety over route preference for greenway

In a discussion Monday in the Maplewood City Council meeting about a proposed Great Rivers Greenway route through the city, officials came to a consensus, and it wasn’t to prefer a north or south route. They want bikers and pedestrians to be safe.

“Safety is number one,” councilman Shawn Faulkingham said. He said everything else is “moot.” The main issue is how the route will conduct bikers and walkers across S. Big Bend Boulevard.

The proposed spot for the crossing is at Oxford Avenue, and the officials want it go under Big Bend — not at surface. Mayor Barry Greenberg said he can’t image kids trailing parents on tricycles crossing Big Bend. He said after the meeting that he rides a bike, and as the greenway heads south on the River DesPeres Greenway, the crossings at Gravois and Morgan Ford are similarly dangerous, but crossing Big Bend would be worse.

Another option to cross Big Bend could be on the existing overpass south of Oxford, but a business near that intersection has truck deliveries and has expressed concerns, Greenberg said after the meeting. Greenberg said he thinks that could be dealt with.

The other two intersections where safety could be a problem is where Sutton Boulevard crosses the railroad tracks, and the east end of Greenwood Boulevard where it intersects Canterbury Avenue. Residents spoke in the meeting about those intersections.

One, who lives nearby in the Ellenwood neighborhood, said he wants a police presence at the Greenwood-Canterbury intersection because drivers often make rolling stops there, and hit speeds of up to 50 mph going east on Greenwood. City Assistant Manager Anthony Traxler said he’d talk to the police chief about placing an officer there. Another resident gave examples of the dangers of bikers and pedestrians crossing railroad tracks.

Greenberg said some dangerous circumstances can’t be helped, like a walker wearing headphones and not hearing a train coming, but crossing Big Bend is inherently dangerous.

The proposed route along Greenwood (then north route) would run on the north side of the road, avoiding the street intersections on the south side. Council members said it wouldn’t encroach on the railroad right of way and wouldn’t cut back existing parking. Construction could begin in 2018.

The proposed route along Deer Creek (the south route) would necessitate buying residents’ property for the right of way. Also MSD plans to do underground work at one spot on the route. Those issues could delay construction to 2019 to 2020.

Councilman Tim Dunn was the only council member to express reservations. He said he gets the theory of connecting to the existing greenway, but asked if the project is even worth it for the city. He said people will ride bikes anyway. He also said he’s worried about safety at the Greenwood – Canterbury intersection.

The cost of the greenway, to be paid for by federal funds, is estimated at $3.8 million for the Greenwood route, and $3 to $5 million for the Deer Creek route.

Also in the meeting, officials OK’d a liquor license (beer and wine only) for the new owner of 7-Eleven at 2425 S. Big Bend Boulevard; and also a liquor license by the drink to serve beer and wine for the owner of Thai Table, to open at 7403 Manchester Road.






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