Update on Gateway Station

October 29, 2008

I visited the new station today. I was unable to take interior shots while I was there, due to restrictions by the City of St. Louis and Greyhound, but I did get to see the interior, myself. It’s spanking clean and spacious. I also got some exterior shots, and I had the actual experience of navigating the streets and parking lots around it. There is still work in progress on the site, so (hopefully) more signage is being installed yet, landscape work continues, some construction dumpsters still need to be removed (soon). It’s close to completion, though. Really close, and there is lots of human activity around and through it.

I talked to a couple of officials inside, and I left the URL for this blog with one of them, who said she would love to pass my contact info onto someone with the City, who has interior photos I can share. So interior shots coming soon. The official also said she was glad to have the added publicity on the blog, and she will e-mail some info to me about other blogs also covering this project.  I will share those when I get them.

This new station is tucked under an elevated interstate highway, and as I’ve said before, it’s a design that is incredibly well adapted to this difficult site. Hopefully people coming will use the light rail to get to the station and park on commuter lots away from it, but some will need to drive to this location and park. This brings up the issue of SIGNAGE. I work for a design company, plus I’m an info geek, and signage is near and dear to my heart on both those counts; however, it’s often the last thing designed into a project, and the first thing cut out of it when someone’s looking to reduce costs. That’s always a shame, in my opinion. Good signage is an unrivaled info & communication tool. I hope there is more signage coming for this project starting out on Market Street to direct people from that thoroughfare to the station and then once the station is in sight to direct them to the parking for it. It was a little hard to find, and I know this part of town pretty well.

Market Street is the main E/W drag through downtown St. Louis, and most streets running perpendicular to it are one way. Most, but not all. I made a few wrong turns and had to backtrack before I saw a small blue & white sign on a street pole on Market pointing to the station. It wasn’t much of a directional, I can tell you. If someone knows about where to find the turn-off from Market to the station, then this sign will say “here you go,” but if someone is not from the area and really doesn’t know the general layout or gets confused about what direction they’re headed, the small sign won’t alert them. Better signage is needed on Market at 15th. I think a grand, new station deserves some signage fanfare, and not having to backtrack or ask for directions would help people arrive to pick up and drop off passengers in a happier frame of mind. That’s a PR plus!

I stopped at a nearby lot to pull a ticket and park, only to find out that it is a private lot. Again, signage would communicate that without my having to pull in, ask the person in the booth how much to park, and then back out into traffic when she tells me I can’t park there. Probably nothing at all to do with any oversight by the City or the Station, but shouldn’t a private lot in a major downtown area be marked as a courtesy? It would help not just drivers looking to park, but that poor person in the booth at the entrace to the lot! Imagine how many times a day she’s having to tell people they can’t park there, and the station isn’t even really open yet.

I’ll just go on and be your new best friend and tell you right here and now how to get to this spiffy new station. If you are heading east on Market, you turn right (south) onto 15th, and then left (east) on Poplar. Keep driving east on Poplar a couple of blocks, even though you’re going to be thinking, “This can’t possibly be the right way … .” because it is. You will be routed to the right by a no-entry sign at the cross walks and near the passenger drop off, and you will find yourself at a new-to-St. Louis central prepay parking robot. That’s what I’m calling it, and I’ve got a picture of it for you here. It’s next to the trash can. The sign indicates there is more than one, but I only saw one today. 

Prepay meter bot

Prepay meter bot

 

It’s a credit/debit card &/or coin machine, and you work a touch screen to select your spot (I took #3) and then pay $1/hr. for short-term parking. I guess this central electronic meter eliminates individual mechanical meters, and maybe the hope is that one will be easier to maintain than many, but if the main one breaks down, what do we do? Also, it was impossible to see the numbers painted on the parking spots from the vantage point of the main meter, and the only reason I knew that spot #3 was available was because I messed up in a way that won’t be possible once the site is busy: I saw the four big yellow and red prepayment signs with downward pointing arrows high on the pole, and while it was clear I needed to prepay, I was looking for a parking lot attendant, a person, under the sign/arrows and didn’t see one. I didn’t recognize the electronic meter for what it was (I’ve never seen one of those bots before, and it’s likely most other people in this area haven’t either), and it was somewhat difficult to see at all with the big trash barrel next to it. I pulled past it initially, asked a cabbie parked in space #2, “Whom do I pay for parking?” and then had to back up to the main meter, get out of my car, read the screen, fish for change, and feed it quarters. I had seen when I was up talking to the cabbie that #3 was available. Maybe if you’re working “blind” the meter tells you if you pick a spot that’s occupied?

I’m have a mental image of my 83 year old stepfather & my 78 year old mother trying to figure this out.

Prepay parking bot screen

Prepay parking bot screen

I don’t know the time limit for “short-term,” but the signs saying you will be towed if you don’t prepay and if your time expires are not to be taken lightly. St. Louis is home to some very zealous towing companies, and if you get caught up in that mess, you might just as well abandon your car to the towing lot and buy a new one. It’s that painful. So beware on that count. The card slot for the parking machine was “out of order” today, or probably not yet working, since the station isn’t completely operational yet, and be forewarned that you can’t put a $1 bill into it, so bring at least four quarters. That way you will have time to look around the station, etc., without having to rush or worry about being towed. The building will be worth the visit, and of course the people in a train/bus station are always interesting.

You’re welcome.

 

Grayhound bays / north end of station complex

Grayhound bays / north end of station complex

MetroLink station access / south complex

MetroLink station access / south complex

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2 Responses to “Update on Gateway Station”

  1. Marc Says:

    Do you know when it opens for Amtrak?

  2. donnajgamache Says:

    Marc, I haven’t heard any rumblings from over that way on Amtrak service opening at the new station. I am due for another trip over there, though, to investigate. The person I spoke to at the station was supposed to get back to me with some additional information on it, and I have not heard anything yet from her. Bookmark me, and I will get by the station later this week and update here. Thanks for stopping by.


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