Delmar Blvd and the Purpose of Arterial Roads

As reported by University City Patch back in January, St. Louis County would like to remove a section of Delmar Blvd from its arterial road system and turn control over to another government entity, most likely University City. Specifically, the county would like to divest the .65 mile section of Delmar Blvd running through The Loop from Big Bend Blvd to the St. Louis city limits. County traffic engineers estimate the annual cost to University City at $36,000, though University City officials argue the amount could be much greater.

The St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic does periodically remove and add streets to its arterial road system. The character and demand of streets, afterall, changes over time. But it’s disappointing to read the County’s reasons for wanting to discard this section of Delmar Blvd.

In a letter last month to County Executive Charlie Dooley, Hodges said that the stretch of road “no longer functions as an arterial road, but serves more to support the businesses in the Delmar Loop area and other commercial establishments in University City.”

Delmar Blvd anchors The Loop—one of the great commercial neighborhoods in the St. Louis area—and has long been the principal arterial of University City. The Loop’s eclectic mix of shops and restaurants attracts people from all over the St. Louis area. The success of The Loop is the reason Delmar Blvd was recognized as a “Great Street” by the American Planning Association in 2007.

So why would any government agency not want to take pride in ownership of one of the great streets in America? According to St. Louis County, it’s because traffic doesn’t move fast enough… due to all the pedestrians and parked cars!