This study will provide the public and regional and local decision-makers with the up-to-date information needed to decide whether to move forward with building street-running light rail in the Northside-Southside corridor.


The study's purpose is to identify the light rail investment that:

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Encourages sustainable development patterns which expand residents' access to opportunities

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Leverages existing transportation infrastructure to increase connectivity within the City and the region

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Reflects current demographic and development trends

East-West Gateway Council of Governments, in partnership with the City of St. Louis, is leading the Northside-Southside Study.


Northside Southside Light Rail Rendering

Part of the study's challenge is to help the community envision what on-street light rail would look like in our neighborhoods. It is a different sort of transportation and development opportunity for our region.

Northside-Southside will be street-running, unlike existing MetroLink.

Unlike St. Louis’s existing MetroLink, many light rail systems across the country run in the street, which is how the Northside-Southside route would operate.

Most modern light rail lines are open systems, with no turnstiles or barriers at the stations. Street-running light rail stations, such as the ones that would be along the Northside-Southside line, are often not much bigger than a bus stop, though they can be larger in busier areas.

Street-running light rail tracks (LRT) are at-grade, meaning the rails are at roadway height. This results in slower speeds and many at-grade crossings of cross streets – usually controlled by modified traffic lights that give priority to light rail vehicles, rather than gates and flashing warnings.

On-street light rail in Portland, OR

This study builds on the work completed in 2008.

The Northside-Southside route runs from South St. Louis County at I-55 and Bayless Road, north through Downtown, and northwest to I-70 and Goodfellow Boulevard. The recommended route, which is what we are studying, was determined after extensive study and public feedback during a 2006-2008 study to figure out how best to serve the Northside-Southside neighborhoods and further connect the region.

However, since the proposed Northside-Southside light rail expansion line was explored in the late 1990s and then studied in 2008, the City of St. Louis and its neighborhoods have changed considerably. The study team will gather the following information to make recommendations that meet the project goals.

Project GoalsWhat Will Be StudiedCommunity Feedback
Foster Sustainable Development and RedevelopmentStation area population and employment densitiesStation location
Station area equity characteristicsStation area planning
Station area land use and economic development opportunitiesNeighborhood characteristics
Environmental impacts/benefitsImpacts to residents and businesses
Improve Access to OpportunityRidershipTransit ridership habits
Transit travel timesFrequency
Traffic impactsFacilities
Potential right-of-way impactsSafety
Bicycle and pedestrian impactsConnectivity
Develop and Select an Implementable and Community-Supported ProjectCapital and O&M costsOverall thoughts
Cost effectivenessFunding opportunities
Community supportPartnerships

We need public feedback on station area planning.


The study's aim is to confirm and optimize the route and stations identified as the locally-preferred alternative in 2008. One area where the team will study additional alignment options is North St. Louis between Delmar Boulevard and Grand Boulevard due to the future National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) West campus.

This study will, with the help of public feedback, give detailed recommendations on exact station locations on the street, station area planning, and how stations can encourage transit-oriented development and other economic development to strengthen neighborhoods.

The Northside-Southside study also includes a potential Broadway Avenue alignment to be studied in future project phases.


As a result of the decision to build the NGA facility east of Jefferson Avenue and Parnell Street and north of Cass Avenue, the study team will analyze in detail one or more alternatives that would be closer to NGA before a recommendation is made on whether to select the original preferred alignment or an NGA-focused option. The team will base their recommendation on costs, ridership and development impacts. Going into the study there is no assumption as to which alternative is likely to be recommended.


The study team will conduct preliminary station area planning for all 29 stations, but during this study will also take a closer look at 8 of them. For these detailed analyses, the study team will gather public feedback, do additional market analyses and coordinate with other area planning initiatives and studies.

The study team will also review safety design best practices and talk to riders about their experiences and suggestions.

2017 Northside-Southside NGA alternatives (all routes will be considered)

We need an implementable and community-supported plan.


It is assumed that Northside-Southside would have to get 50% of its total capital cost from the Federal Transit Agency (FTA) and the rest from local and state sources. FTA will evaluate the project according to its New Starts program criteria, which includes ridership, costs, development impacts, and a realistic plan for non-federal funding.

The financial plan for the project will include the identification of realistic sources for the non-federal share of capital costs, as well as for operating costs. These could be local, regional or state funding sources. The proceeds from an increased city sales tax would be an important component of the financial plan, but may not be sufficient to fund the entire non-federal share.

The project's financial and implementation plan will include ways the region could build Northside-Southside light rail in phases to better compete for federal funding and construct more quickly.


WINTER 2017 - FALL 2018: Data Analyses and Feedback

Current action: Conditions analysis

Upcoming action: Station area planning