Friday, March 18, 2016

Trolley Tracks East of Skinker May Be Too Tight for Comfort

Posted By on Fri, Mar 18, 2016 at 6:00 AM

The stretch of track under discussion is near Pi, the Pageant and the rest of the Loop's eastern edge. - PHOTO BY SARAH FENSKE
  • Photo by Sarah Fenske
  • The stretch of track under discussion is near Pi, the Pageant and the rest of the Loop's eastern edge.
How close are the trolley tracks to the street parking along the south side of Delmar Boulevard, east of Skinker? So close that it's easy to imagine a trolley car sheering off a rearview mirror — or, if a door is opened too quickly, maybe even a car door.

It's that possibility that the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District is now looking into. "We knew it was going to be tight down there," says Chris Poehler, the organization's director. "We need to get the final dimensions for the trolley cars to see how tight."

But Poehler says he's confident that street parking will not be eliminated in those blocks — and that they can work with whatever the facts end up being as to the size of trolley cars. "One way or another, we'll find a way to keep the parking," he promises. The district is looking at prominent white striping to make it clear that cars will need to park extremely close to the curb. 

Some Loop denizens learning of the situation have questioned whether the contractors messed up. Any stretch of track that close to street parking had to be a mistake.

But Poehler says that's simply not true. On the stretch of Delmar south of Skinker, heading east, they needed space for a turn lane that is not required in other parts of the Loop. That moved the tracks closer to the side of the street.

And while they knew it would be tight, it only recently became clear just how tight. 

"As tracks were getting laid, it became more evident," Poehler says. "It's not something you can see on the plan sheets." 

Since that stretch of the trolley is in the city of St. Louis, not University City, Poehler says they've been in touch with city planners. Once the trolley district gets more information on the precise dimensions of those trolley cars, they'll be pondering their next step.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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