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Governmental Coordination

Article

As with many large cities today, St. Louis no longer refers to the urban center within the city limits; it is a complex community of governmental entities that form a metropolitan area. The St. Louis region ranks near the top of the nation in terms of the number of municipal governments, boasting more than 650 units of local government. This translates to roughly 31 per 100,000 persons, or one per every 3,000. Such fragmentation significantly affects the development patterns in our region, and it poses many challenges and demands as we consider ways to work together in our efforts to achieve great streets. A map of the region is available from East-West Gateway.

Collaboration is essential for corridor transformation. Regardless of the size of the municipality, collaboration can still be important. This is especially true for corridors that cross through many municipalities. St. Louis has many of these corrirdors, such as Manchester Road or Olive Boulevard. If change across the length of a corridor is desired, collaboration amongst the respective local governments is absolutely essential. Doing so ensures a number of essential outcomes:

  • Uniformity in planning and design assumptions
  • Avoidance of piece-meal projects that do not consider corridor-wide needs
  • Efficient investment of available revenues across jurisdictions
  • Political endorsement across jurisdictions
  • Potentially, increased ability to secure funding through TIP process

Bring owning agencies to the table early in great street planning. Great streets are often innovative developments, in many cases applying new planning and design approaches to enhance the thoroughfare for all modes. Such innovation is to be encouraged, but it can be counter to traditional planning and design methods. It is therefore paramount to coordinate with the agency(s) that owns the thoroughfare very early in the planning of great street developments. Discussing assumptions and methodologies with the owning agency can ensure consensus early on in the process. If this type of coordination is overlooked, the process can be stalled and even derailed at later phases of the project process.

Collaboration can help small municipalities create great streets. Many of the numerous municipalities in the St. Louis region are relatively small, both in geographic size and in population. As a result, the tax revenue generated by many of these local governments is usually barely sufficient to keep up with basic civic necessities, let alone to come up with matching funds for a great street initiative. Collaboration with neighboring municipalities can be an effective means for small municipalities to reach beyond the limitations of their individual fiscal constraints. It is not uncommon for neighboring communities to share common streets in need of transformation. By banding together, these communities can bring greater resources to bear in their effort to develop great streets. When neighboring cities work together, it also eliminates the competition for tax revenue that all too often leads local governments into making poor development decisions. One primary key for success in this type of collaborative effort is the mutual agreement on revenue sharing/distribution across the area of improvement.