Cross town the light way
The eight-mile, nine station Cross-County Extension of the St. Louis MetroLink light-rail system opened last fall to connect communities in the St. Louis central corridor to downtown. The extension links Washington University, the St. Louis Galleria shopping center and several suburban cities to the existing 46-mile MetroLink system.
The East West Gateway Council of Governments evaluated demand and coordinated planning for the $676 million project, which took 10 general contractors and numerous subcontractors three years and more than 3 million man hours to complete. To enhance competition and maximize opportunities for local, small and minority-owned firms, Metro bid the overall extension and the station projects in multiple packages. St. Louis-based Walton Construction and its local joint venture minority business enterprise partner Mosley Construction, for example, were awarded a $7.3 million contract for work on four of the nine stations. The team constructed platforms and elevators with canopied enclosures, installed fencing, furnishings and specialty items.
The “jewel” of the system is a tunnel running one mile below Forest Park Parkway, a major thoroughfare in the central corridor. At two underground stations, mezzanine walkways allow passengers to reach their platforms without having to cross the tracks or a busy intersection. The extension’s 13 bridges and four tunnels contribute to a unique layout, with light rail vehicles twisting and changing elevation more often than on the rest of the system.
One of the new stations features a park-and-ride lot for up to 800 cars to encourage more suburban ridership, and a 10-level parking facility near I-64 includes 1,000 spaces to attract West St. Louis County riders. Metro officials predicted the extension would increase ridership by 18,000 daily by 2010, but already daily numbers have increased by more than 20,000. Preliminary data indicates that Metro achieved the “5 Million Passengers” milestone in May 2007, the highest total monthly ridership in recent history for MetroLink, MetroBus and Call-A-Ride combined.
Project: Light-rail system
Jurisdiction: St. Louis
Contractors: 10, including St. Louis-based Walton Construction/Mosley Construction joint venture (station finish package)
Architects: Kansas City, Mo.-based HNTB and Oklahoma City-based Benham Group
Date completed: Fall 2006
Cost: $676 million