Messenger: With a tweet, Mayor Slay signals plan to expand transit in St. Louis
Walking Cherokee Street on a sunny Thursday afternoon, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay gives off a certain rock star vibe.
With a passel of staffers and a reporter in tow, he chats in this iconic South Side neighborhood with nearly everybody. Drivers roll down their windows and wave. At the intersection with Jefferson Avenue, Nyeisha Muldrew stops the four-term mayor and asks for a picture.
The mayor abides.
Then he tells Muldrew why here’s here, at this corner, on this day.
“We’re looking at expanding MetroLink,” Slay tells the 29-year-old who lives on Cherokee. “We’d have a stop right here.”
Muldrew’s smile can’t be contained.
“Oh, that would be perfect,” she gushes. Then she explains.
Here’s how her smile will be turned into a frown:
Nowhere close to Jefferson and Cherokee.
Of course, by the time this thing actually gets built and open, Slay will be both out of office and probably out of St. Louis, so he won’t feel Miss Muldrew’s personal wrath at what she will by then realize was a bald faced lie told to her face back in 2016.
She takes public transportation every day to get to her job in Webster Groves. But from where she lives, there’s no easy way to get there. She takes the No. 73 bus to Union Station downtown, where she connects to the MetroLink Shrewsbury line. It’s better than being on the highway, she says, but she’d welcome a better, quicker route.
Tell me how the above helps her even one bit in her Jefferson-and-Cherokee to Webster Groves and back daily commute.
The request came after the mayor, as he sometimes does, signaled a major policy shift with a tweet.
The current flash mob into Germany was also the result of a single tweet. Should we St. Louisans be worried that Slay has a penchant for tweeting?
“Top of my list to move forward: North/South Metro expansion. No new line has been added since 2006,” he tweeted on May 21.
And why is that? Because the 2006 expansion was two years late and a couple hundred million over budget, and it brought Metro so close to financial insolvency, that they had to do serious service reductions and then beg for and eventually get a city/county sales tax increase so that it could restore them. And why was the 2006 expansion so late and so far over budget? Affirmative action contractors. Three words: Kwame Building Group. They screwed up so badly that Metro had to take over the job and finish it directly, and as affirmative action happy as Metro is as an agency, they weren’t much better managing the project than Kwame was.
Finally, there’s the matter of finding the more than $1 billion it would take to build such a system.
A billion sounds like a hell of a lot of money for a line that will largely run along pre-existing railroad right-of-way and tracks. Oh well, doesn’t matter, it’ll cost at least $2 billion.
The Ferguson Commission identified development of the north-south MetroLink line as one of its 148 calls to action in its Forward Through Ferguson report.
I already told you why, Messenger, but you’re not smart enough to read Countenance Blog.
He points to the old YMCA on Loughborough Avenue, near where the southern terminus of the city’s route would be.
Actually it would be where the new YMCA is in Carondelet Park. And I’m sure the white people around there are just happy to hear that. Think of what the MissingLink did for the Galleria. It’s not as if the Y in Carondelet Park isn’t already full of bouncyball-dindus. The weird part about that is that Slay lives in that area, in fact, he lives south of Carondelet Park. So you’d think he wouldn’t be so happy to see the MissingLink be extended to end close to his nest. Except it’s just like I said above, he’s not running for mayor again, he won’t be mayor as of next April, and he’ll probably move out of St. Louis not long after. Besides, it’ll take years to start turning dirt if financing can be lined up, and because they’ll give the job to some affirmative action outfit, it’ll take even more years and years to get the thing built.
“This is where I learned to swim,” he said.
And now he wants to make it easier for non-swimmers to get there.
Later, on the north side, he points to St. Liborius Church, just west of where the MetroLink would run, near the new site of the NGA headquarters.
NGA employees aren’t going to use the MissingLink to commute to and from work, I can assure you of that. They’re only going to be there for as long as they need to on a day to day basis for their jobs, and then get the hell out of Dodge once the whistle blows.
Incidentally, here’s the proposed north half of this project:
“My mother graduated from elementary school there,” he said.
It was 1945. The school is long gone and the neighborhood has seen better days.
He means whiter days.