St. Louis is still celebrating the December re-opening of its big highway construction project. “Highway 40” (now known as Federal Highway 64) was retooled with more than $500M in taxpayer money, much of it federal money. This highway runs along the heavily traveled “central corridor” of St. Louis, and it would have been a great place to leave room for a new light rail line (St. Louis has such a system that desperately lacks a line running down this central corridor). Or at least they could have thought of carving out a narrow biking route along the highway. None of these things were done, however. In St. Louis, many of us still think of private motor vehicles as our sole means of transportation.
Ironic, then, that officials opened the new highway to only pedestrians and bikes the Sunday before it opened the newly rehabbed highway to cars and trucks. I heard several people peddling on the highway exclaim that they could bicycle swiftly, in about 25 minutes, from the middle of St. Louis City all the way to Clayton on the new highway. Gad – it really didn’t take that much longer than driving a car!
But why wasn’t accommodation made for light rail or even for a bicycling path? An official explanation showed up (at all places) at the St. Louis Science Center (it’s no longer there). As you’ll see, there is nothing scientific about this propaganda. On a big board offering the “FAQs” of the reconstruction, one could read the following “explanation.”
I’ll translate: We’re short-sighted people. Notice how the “explanation” tries to lull you to sleep for the first few sentences before evading the question entirely? Here’s another translation: “We’re stupid.” Here’s another: “We lack a thoughtful set of priorities.” Or this: “We’d rather give trillions of dollars to banks than fight for something sensible here at home.”