As the Medical Campus continues to grow, finding a parking spot, dealing with congested traffic or detouring through construction projects can be challenging.
As one of Metro’s busiest transit stops in St. Louis, approximately 500 buses maneuver through that narrow stretch of Euclid Avenue between Barnes-Jewish Hospital Plaza and Forest Park Parkway daily — fueling traffic and congestion problems and creating safety concerns for pedestrians.
The crowded street, which runs through the heart of the Medical Campus, is not only the main vein for bus traffic but it’s also home to the widely used Central West End MetroLink stop.
“The safety of our patients, visitors, staff and students is paramount,” said Rick Schaefer, director of the Department of Design and Construction.
“Euclid Avenue is not only a busy vehicular thoroughfare, but it is also our busiest pedestrian street. Eliminating truck and bus traffic from Euclid has been in our thoughts for years.”
Schaefer added that with Metro’s help, the Medical Campus has taken a huge step toward pedestrian safety, without compromise to the MetroBus operation. “In fact, it will make Metro’s transit operation more efficient and more user friendly,” he said.
In an effort to remedy traffic concerns and to improve safety, the Department of Design and Construction has joined forces with BJC HealthCare and Metro to build a transit station that features six bus bays on the vacant lot that sits at the corner of Taylor Avenue and Children’s Place alongside the MetroLink tracks. The School of Medicine is planning a six-level, 700-car parking garage above the MetroBus transit station.
“The idea behind this project originated with constructing a transit station to get the bus traffic off Euclid,” Schaefer said. “It’s not a small matter that hundreds of buses come through Euclid every day. The new route will make it much safer for pedestrians, Medical Campus patients, visitors and staff alike.”
Schaefer added that the new MetroBus plan routes bus traffic along Forest Park Parkway to Taylor Avenue to avoid mass congestion in the middle of the Medical Campus. Buses will make stops along Kingshighway Boulevard and the Parkway so that people will still have convenient access to buildings across campus.
The Metro Garage will also replace parking spaces displaced by the March 1 closing of the old “Wayco” Garage at Euclid and Children’s Place.
Structural engineers determined that the parking facility, which was built in 1959, was no longer structurally sound.
According to Schaefer, the former Wayco Garage offers a prime location for a new medical school research building.
Whether the structure will be built there is under discussion.
The new public Metro transit station will also feature ground-level access to the east end of the existing MetroLink platform, which will remain at Euclid.
Both the Metro Garage and transit station are slated to be completed by late spring 2005. Meanwhile, visitors and patients can use the Barnes Subsurface Garage on Barnes-Jewish Hospital Plaza for access to south campus or the Forest Park-Laclede Garage on Forest Park Parkway for the north campus.
To further meet expanding parking needs, Schaefer said plans are also in the works to expand the Clayton Garage, located at the corner of Clayton and Taylor avenues.
“Parking and way-finding, both vehicular and pedestrian, at most major medical centers across the country are typically a challenge,” Schaefer said.
He added that the Medical Campus has dedicated a great deal of resources over the past three years to improve and increase parking for patients and visitors.
“These two new replacement garages will increase the parking for our staff and visitors,” he said. “The creation of a MetroBus transit station will greatly improve pedestrian safety on campus.”