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St. Louis regional planning agency hopes grant will help reduce pedestrian deaths

Rachel Lippmann
St. Louis Public Radio
The East-West Gateway Council of Governments will apply for a federal grant to cover the cost of developing a plan to reduce pedestrian injuries and deaths.

The region’s planning agency is putting its support behind an effort to make area roads safer for people who bike or walk.

The massive infrastructure funding bill that Congress approved earlier this year includes $5 billion to improve pedestrian safety. The East-West Gateway Council of Governments is applying for a grant that will help it develop a strategy to try to eventually eliminate pedestrian deaths and serious injuries. Having that strategy would allow the region to apply for additional money in the future.

At its meeting on Wednesday, the council’s board promised to supply the necessary local match if a planning grant is awarded.

For years, East-West Gateway has set a goal of reducing pedestrian deaths and injuries by 2% annually, said its transportation planning coordinator, Anna Musial.

“We have yet to hit a 2% reduction. And in fact, we're going in the opposite direction,” she told the board.

North-South MetroLink

Also on Wednesday, the head of the region’s transit agency told East-West Gateway that a new proposed route for MetroLink expansion in the city will make the project more likely to attract federal funding.

The route, unveiled earlier this year, will travel mostly along Jefferson Avenue, rather than veering into downtown as originally planned. Fewer turns will make the tracks easier to build, said Bi-State Development CEO Taulby Roach, and the project would align more closely with the federal government’s efforts to bring more resources to disadvantaged communities.

“We are fulfilling the promise of MetroLink,” Roach said. “We have a lot of households, especially to the north, but also to the south, where we are providing access to households that have one vehicle or less.”

East-West Gateway will vote later this year on whether to make the new route the locally preferred alternative, which it will use to attempt to win federal grants.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.