Time is running out!
 Wednesday night (6/12) is the last community meeting for the Dorsett Road Great Streets project. Attendance has grown at each meeting showing city officials that residents DO care about plans for our city.
If you haven't been to a meeting yet, come tomorrow and see what's going on. If you've already been, come and find out what the next steps are in this exciting project.

 The Dorsett Great Streets website has been very active!
 If you were not able to attend the previous community meetings, go to the website and take the survey on-line.  You can also post ideas that you have for improving Dorsett Road and vote or comment on ideas that other residents have posted. Make your voice heard!  

Next Dorsett Road Great Streets Community meeting is scheduled for Wednesday June 12th:

Maryland Heights Community Center
6:30 to 8:30 pm
2344 McKelvey Road
Maryland Heights, MO

Pass this news on to neighbors and friends!

Whether or not you foster fond memories of the Pasta House restaurant on Dorsett near McKelvey Road, you no doubt have noticed what an eyesore it has become since it closed.

Take heart:  the landowner there has submitted a preliminary development plan to raze the old restaurant and build a new multi-tenant building in its place.  No leases have been signed, but tenants could include something along the lines of an eye glass company, cell phone retailer and possibly a small restaurant.  On October 9, the Planning & Zoning Commission approved the plan with modifications, which primarily are aimed at improvements to the building's design features.

Another, perhaps greater, concern is how the new building will help or hinder the effort to move Dorsett Road toward becoming a "Great Street" (see post below), that is, more pedestrian and bike friendly with a unique character.  Merely replacing the Pasta House with a newer version of the same thing does not contribute to the city's own initiative to bring more distinctive character to the neighborhood.

Many buildings along the Dorsett/McKelvey business district are older and may come up for replacement at some point.  We should take every opportunity, including the one with the Pasta House location, to make sure we are creating the community and street-scape that we want, and not just perpetuating the past.

Dorsett Road:  Love it or hate it, it is the main drag through Maryland Heights. But is it "Main St."?  

If a "Main St." is a place of unique character, pedestrian life and thriving commerce, probably not.  But could it be, with a little planning, imagination and money?  We'll see.

A Post-Dispatch article recently reported "A corridor from Lindbergh Boulevard to Creve Couer Park was selected by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments for its Great Streets Initiative. The project strives to create what it's name suggests — a great street.

"The program is defined around seven keys points, everything from economic development to environmentally best practices and making sure the roadway functions for all users, not just those in cars," said Paul Hubbman, senior management of corridor and long-range planning for East-West Gateway.

We think Dorsett Rd. is an interesting choice because Maryland Heights is a younger, suburban location without the historical character and infrastructure of, for example, South Grand or Maplewood, where other Great Streets Initiatives have been implemented. Could we really develop a Main St., over time, of the caliber of Webster Groves or University City?

We don't know.  But we think it's an interesting question.  People in Maryland Heights have strong feelings about their community.  We hope they use those strong feelings to fuel their participation in this project at every opportunity.  

MoDot has produced a great little video explaining upcoming street closures and lane changes at Dorsett & I-270.  The video clip includes an animation of how the new intersection will work and explains the accelerated timeline. 

The cover of today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch also features the upcoming changes at the exchange.  Find more information here.

The construction phase is painful, but the result will be worth it.  Traffic will move better and new landscaping will improve significantly the impression of Maryland Heights when you get off the interstate.
Maryland Heights Residents for Responsible Growth, is hosting a public event with MoDOT and the City of Maryland Heights on the reconstruction of the I-270 interchanges at Dorsett Road and Page Avenue which begin this month.

Wednesday - February 17, 2010
6:00 - 7:00 p.m. - Presentation and Q&A with MoDOT and City of Maryland Heights Public Works
7:00 -8:00 p.m. - Open Forum with Community

Maryland Heights Community Centre - Auditorium
2344 McKelvey Road
Maryland Heights, MO 63043

This is the first public forum with specific details and timelines on this two-year construction project. The project will start on I-270 and Dorsett Road the first year, then move to Page Avenue interchange in 2011. The project is expected to take two years. MoDOT will also be showing the public the animated driving sequences on the "divergent diamond" design on Dorsett at the I-270 interchange.
There will also be a major, parallel Maryland Heights city project moving Prospect Parkway away from the rebuilt Dorsett interchange which will place the finished road further east on Dorsett. It will relocate the road on the north side of Dorsett past Syberg's and cross to the south-side of Dorsett just east of the Drury Inn. The south-side construction will feature a "jug-handle" design and is designed to assist with traffice congestion from the newly expanded Edward Jones campus as well as funnel traffic in and out of the Westport area. 

180,000 cars a day travel on I-270 through Maryland Heights every day and this is going to cause big disruptions for both local traffic in Maryland Heights, Westport and Creve Couer as well as those who are just traveling through the area on I-270 from Page Ave. to I-70. There will be lane detours and reduced lanes as they completely rebuild the bridges/interchanges.

Please come and join the discussion!
Acting on a suggestion from the July meeting for Ward 1, Ken Gold and Don Hunt brought in Bryan Pearl to answer residents' questions about current and upcoming infrastructure projects in Maryland Heights.

Ward 1 Meeting Notes

The majority of the meeting focused on current and planned infrastructure projects for Maryland Heights. A briefing on the projects follows at the end of this post.

MetroLink Discussion

A lively discussion ensued on the possibility of MetroLink coming to Maryland Heights. Unfortunately, the Ward 1 representatives took away the “message” from last month’s Listen & Learn that the majority of residents were against MetroLink coming to Maryland Heights. That’s not what we took away from the meeting: it looked like 50% for and 50% against when an informal vote was taken at the Listen & Learn meeting.

Residents at the Ward 1 meeting challenged that false conclusion and the ward meeting appeared to again split 50% for and 50% against MetroLink. It will be an interesting community discussion to have once it ever becomes a true possibility as it appears to be partly a generational issue. Younger, working adults tend to be pro-MetroLink while older retirees tend to be against it.

The truth is a lot of early residents chose to move to a semi-rural area before Maryland Heights was a city. Now, it’s a second-ring suburb of St. Louis and more urban. To find a similar, semi-rural community, you’d have to look at western St. Charles County these days.

Please note:  There are NO current plans or money to pursue MetroLink in Maryland Heights at this time so everyone can relax.

Allied Waste Changes Coming

Allied Waste is currently working with the city on a test of new garbage cans. The joint intention is to keep costs low so that residents can continue to enjoy the free garbage, recyclables and yard-waste pick-up currently provided by the city. The goal is to move toward a uniform-size garbage can that can increase automation in the pick-up process. If the test goes well, residents may be provided a new garbage can (at no cost) to use for garbage pick-up. No changes are anticipated for recyclables or yard-waste pick-up.

Maryland Heights Infrastructure Projects

Dorsett Road Sidewalks to Creve Coeur Park(October - December 2009) Beginning in October, construction will take place on the north side of Dorsett Road from Pheasant Run Drive to Rule. It will provide a separated sidewalk from Dorsett with an elevated pathway to the north of the guard rail where the land drops off. At the same time, a south sidewalk will be installed from Garden Lane, past the fire house, and connecting to the existing sidewalk to the east. Estimated completion: December 2009.

(Planning Stage)  Under consideration is a North sidewalk on Dorsett Road from Pheasant Run Apartments west to Marine Avenue to complete the North sidewalk from the McKelvey-Dorsett shopping area all the way to Marine. Estimated start date: Summer 2010.

Creve Coeur Park and Marine Avenue

(Planning Stage) St. Louis County is planning a shared pathway that would move walkers and bikers from the Dorsett entrance of upper Creve Coeur Park down to lower Creve Coeur Park and the lake. The path may have switchbacks to allow a safe descent. The purpose is to move bikes and pedestrians off the dangerous and narrow part of Marine that winds down to the lake and give them safe passage on an easily navigable pathway separate from traffic. Estimated start date: Summer 2010.

I-270 and Dorsett Road Interchange

(2009 – 2012) This summer, you’ve probably noticed the utility work going on around the ramps to I-270 along Dorsett Road. It’s all preliminary work for the “divergent diamond” interchange being constructed over the next two years.  Work began this spring with the closings of the BP Station and Waffle House east of I-270. The two businesses were closed to prepare for moving Progress Parkway north of Dorsett Road to a new intersection farther east on Dorsett. This will eliminate the bottleneck of traffic that currently jams up traffic along Dorsett Road, Progress Parkway, and the I-270 entrance/exit ramps.

Work will begin in earnest in January 2010 after the I-64/Hwy. 40 roadway is completely finished. Expect to see closures of I-270 entrance and exit ramps at Dorsett Road. East-west traffic on Dorsett Road will be able to get through, but traffic will be diverted to Schuetz Road on the east and McKelvey on the west to move cars from Dorsett to I-270 via Page Avenue.

There will also be a temporary bridge constructed to the west of the current I-270 bridge over Dorsett to accommodate regular interstate traffic during the complete rebuilding of the bridge.

The new interchange will finally provide safe passage for walkers and bikes under I-270 and connect the east and west sides of Dorsett Road currently dissected by I-270.

Look to the city website (www.marylandheights.com), the monthly newsletter, or your ward meetings for on-going updates on this project.  You can go to the MODOT website for complete information and diagrams of the “divergent diamond” intersection that is being built at http://www.modot.org/stlouis/major_projects/I-270andDorsettInterchangeProject.htm.