I usually avoid driving through Grand Boulevard between Arsenal and Chippewa because it’s sluggish and congested. News of the Great Streets Initiative taking it down to 2 lanes with a center turn lane from Arsenal to Utah caused instinctive cringe and a double-down on “must to avoid.”
Steve Patterson’s thoughts on the Grand Test made sense; why do it for only 6 blocks? I only use South Grand south of Chippewa, which is 2 lanes all the way with no center turn lane. Then again, it’s an even mix of residential and commercial, so not the same kind of traffic nightmares as in Grand Loop, proper.
But what’s the point of conjecture when I could just test drive the test lanes? And so I did on Thursday afternoon, at 4:30-ish. I exited Hwy 44 at Grand, headed south towards home, and began filming at 4-lane Magnolia Avenue, ending just past Chippewa Street, where it remains 2-lanes until it ends at Carondelet Park:
I like it! It took only 3:58 minutes (or 1.5 Beatles tunes) to get from Magnolia to Chippewa during the start of rush hour traffic. The center turn lane in the heart of the South Grand Loop eliminated the obstacles that stop traffic or have us swinging fast, erratic lane changes to avoid stopping. Other than the one red light I ran, it was my smoothest and most care-free tool down this stretch that I have ever experienced.
It was actually rather distracting when it resumed 4-lanes past Utah, especially since I knew the wonky change back to 2 lanes at Chippewa was imminent. If they’re serious about enacting real change, I want them to commit to 2-lanes all the way from Arsenal to where Grand ends at Carondelet Park.
I took their survey, which has interesting questions, but sometimes seems manipulative to a forgone conclusion. And they do not allow for comments like, “commit to 2-lanes all the way from Arsenal to where Grand ends at Carondelet Park.” But I applaud their effort, look forward to the results, and urge you to experiment with it while it lasts.