Trail Master Plan

James Pona & Associates

I. Review and Analysis of Existing Conditions Related to Cycling and Walking

A. Socioeconomic Factors as they Relate to Cycling & Walking
This report will describe and analyze existing conditions within the city of Sunset Hills, Missouri, in preparation for the creation of a bicycle and pedestrian facilities plan. It begins with a review and assessment of selected demographic and socioeconomic data that is related to walking and bicycling. It will examine parks and other open space, as well as the public right-of-way, and will explore concepts for potential incorporation into the plan to be subsequently prepared. Most importantly, however, the study will focus on the potential for bicycling and walking to function as transportation modes of use in the everyday lives of people who live and work in Sunset Hills.

1. Population, Age Group & Income Characteristics
This section provides a brief summary of population and income factors that will help to establish the setting for a potential bicycle and pedestrian system in Sunset Hills, Missouri. The information was obtained from U.S. Census data. Note that the city expanded by annexations in 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997. The census of 1990 showed that the city had 4,915 residents before the annexations. After the annexations and by 2000, the city’s population grew to 7,885. It is this larger number that is used as a reference for the following overview.

Sunset Hills’ population has continued to grow through the first half of this decade. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s mid-decade estimate, the city’s 2005 population was 8,374 persons, an increase of 489 people (6.2%) from 2000. This increase was compared to the population change in cities surrounding Sunset Hills - Crestwood, Fenton, and Kirkwood. The rates of change in those cities were 4%, 31%, and a decline of 1% respectively. Therefore, the city has the second highest growth rate when compared to its neighbors.

In comparing Sunset Hills to St. Louis County as a whole, the city’s growth rate is considerably higher than the county’s rate of 1%. (Refer to Illustrations 1 and 1a.)

1. Population Growth In Sunset Hills Compared to Surrounding Cities
This data shows that Sunset Hills’ population growth is the second highest among its urban neighbors.

The city’s population increase can also be seen within a regional context. Although the entire St. Louis Region grew by 9% between 1990 and 2000, and by another 5% between 2000 and 2006, the strongest growth occurred in the outlying counties of Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles, Madison, St. Clair, and Monroe. The following table and graphic summarizes these county-level changes. (Illustrations 2 and 2a)

2. Growth in Outlying Counties Compared to St. Louis County

City Population Growth 1990-2005
% Change from 1990
1990 Population
2000 Population
2005 Population Estimate
Sunset Hills

0 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000 30000 Sunset Hills Crestwood Fenton Kirkwood 1990 Population 2000 Population 2005 Pop. Estimate

1a. Population Growth Graphic
A comparison of this information with Illustration 1 reveals that the growth rate in Sunset Hills, as a southwest St. Louis County municipality located directly on the I-44 corridor, is more reflective of the growth rate in neighboring Franklin County. Moreover, its topography and quality housing characteristics are similar to those of fast–growing suburbs to the west and southwest. Age group data for Sunset Hills in comparison to its neighboring cities is shown in the graphics on the next page (Illustrations 3, 4, 5 and 6). The median age of the community in 2000 was 46.8, which is higher than its neighboring communities. Crestwood had a median age of 44.9. Fenton’s median age was 40.1. Kirkwood’s median age was 41.1.

The city also has a higher proportion of residents in the 55 and over age group than its neighbors, as well as a lower proportion of residents in the under 5 grouping. However, the rate of drop off in the youngest group, and the rate of increase in the oldest group is on par, or slightly less pronounced,

Estimated % Change from 1990
St. Louis Co.
St. Charles

Madison St. Clair Monroe 993,529 80,603 171,380 212,907 1,016,315 93,807 198,099 283,883 1,000,510 100,067 216,469 338,719 0 200,000 400,000 600,000 800,000 1,000,000 1,200,000 St. Louis Co. Franklin Jefferson St. Charles 1990 2000 2006 Estimate

2a. Growth Graphic, Outlying Counties (Missouri Portion than in peer communities. With 58% of the population between 5 and 55, there is clearly a large age cohort likely to benefit significantly from an improved pedestrian system and new bicycle facilities.

The median household income in Sunset Hills was $67,576 as reported in the 2000 Census (using 1999 data). This is the second highest of the comparison cities –Crestwood, Fenton, Kirkwood and Sunset Hills. On a per capita basis, the city of Sunset Hills is the most prosperous among its neighbors. In these communities, amenities such as bicycle facilities are considered important in enriching the quality of life and are regarded as attractive by prospective residents. (Illustration 7.)

7. Median 1999 Household Income Compared to Neighboring Cities City Median Household Income Per Capita Income
  • Sunset Hills $67,576 $40,151
  • Crestwood $54,185 $26,793
  • Fenton $74,708 $29,658
  • Kirkwood $55,122 $32,012
The Sunset Hills Bikeable-Walkable Community Plan

2. Commercial Activity as it Relates to Cycling
Sunset Hills is an important job center with a diversified business base. According to the city’s website, businesses and their frequencies are categorized as follows:
  • Financial: 5
  • Service : 300
  • Manufacturers: 50
  • Office Buildings: 30
  • Industrial Parks: 2
  • Retail: 100
Significantly, the city has a specialty bike shop, Sunset Cyclery, which is long established in the community.

The most visible, and newest developments are the "Plaza at Sunset Hills" and the "Shoppes at Sunset Hills." Although these centers, and the majority of Sunset Hills businesses, are located around the Watson/Lindbergh corridor, it is important to note that there is a significant business presence in the Industrial Park near Gravois Road and Rahning.

Sunset Hills lacks a traditional “downtown” or “main street.” However, the close proximity of residents to the commercial hubs of the city means that there are significant opportunities for residents to access work or shopping by foot or bike. In addition, there is a potential to use bike facilities and parks to create a municipal identity for Sunset Hills.

3. Journey to Work Data the Following Table Illustrates Year 2000 Journey to Work Data for Sunset Hills by Mode as Reported by the U.s. Census Bureau (Illustration 8).

8. Means of Transportation to Work
  • Source: Year 2000 Census Data
  • Means of Transportation Number Percent
  • Drove Alone 3215 86.7
  • Carpools 219 5.9
  • Public Transportation 0 0
  • Using Other means (which could include bicycle) 97 2.6
  • Worked at Home 173 4.6
Driving alone is the most common means of transportation to work not only in Sunset Hills, but elsewhere in the region and throughout the United States as well. According to Year 2000 census data for Sunset Hills, 3215 individuals (86.7 % of the city’s residents) drove alone to work, while 219 (5.9%) used carpools. In 2000, no 1 took public transportation.

Ninety-7 individuals (2.6%) used “other means” of getting to work, a category that the Census Bureau uses to include bicycle usage. Significantly, among peer communities, this rate is highest in Sunset Hills. By comparison, in Crestwood, 1% of residents took other means; in Fenton not quite 1% chose “other” and in Kirkwood it was 2.1%. The city’s compact land area, coupled with a number of factors including substantial parks and green space and the high concentration of jobs located within the city limits, suggests the potential for considerably more walking and bicycle usage both as a means of transportation to work, and for other practical purposes.

Although according to the 2000 Census, no residents took transit to work, Metro Bus lines presently serve the major arterials of Sunset Hills (Watson, Lindbergh and Gravois). In the past few years, nearly all Metro buses have been equipped with racks to carry bicycles. (Public transit will be more thoroughly discussed in Section B4.) An improved sidewalk and bikeway system could theoretically facilitate combined trips to the job destinations in or near the city; however, national and regional transit data indicate that, except for light rail and commuter trains (not available in the Sunset Hills area), the overwhelmingly dominant demographic for transit users is people who are in the low-to-moderate income ranges. Such a group is neither representative of Sunset Hills or most of its neighbors. Notwithstanding, and because the price of gasoline is expected to continue to increase, it is not unreasonable to assume that some residents of Sunset Hills would consider the transit mode for at least some short trips, especially with the existence of an interconnected system of sidewalks, bike-friendly streets, and trails.

4. Vehicle Ownership
Of peer communities, Sunset Hills has the highest percentage of households without vehicles according to the 2000 Census, 8.4 %. By comparison, 4.7 % of Crestwood households did not have a vehicle; 1.2 % in Fenton and 4.8 % in Kirkwood. For the 271 households in Sunset Hills without a vehicle, important options for residents will be walking, bicycling, and public transit.

5. Non Work-Related Local Travel Patterns
Non work-related local trips are defined as short distance trips taken for practical purposes such as going to a store, school, library, post office, or other non work destination. Short of a full scale traffic analysis, a detailed assessment of the number of non work-related trips in Sunset Hills is not available. However, this activity can be estimated based on other information such as the number of housing units in a community, the presence of nearby commercial corridors offering goods and services, and travel patterns in other communities.

There were 3,217 housing units in Sunset Hills in the year 2000 with an average household size of 2.46 individuals. Because the Watson Road commercial corridor and other nearby arterials contain businesses that provide a readily-accessible variety of goods and services useful to individuals residing in the city, it will be assumed that a minimum of 4 vehicular trips are generated each day for non work related purposes. Given the presence of a residential population, the proximity of many local commercial/retail opportunities, a significant number of local, short distance trips are possible using non-motorized transportation, with the existence of a system of walkable-bikeable roads and trails to facilitate such usage.

6. Local Interest in Recreational Cycling & Walking
Sunset Cyclery, located in Sunset Hills Plaza, has held Sunday rides that begin and end at the bicycle shop, and the staff is involved in ride organization throughout the St. Louis area. Such a location would be an obvious place to promote the city’s bicycling and pedestrian projects. In addition, the city held a 5K Run/Walk in celebration of its 50 the anniversary in April, that attracted over 100 participants. Sunset Hills Alderman Frank Hardy is the team leader for the event. The proximity to Laumeier Sculpture Park and Grants Trail, which was recently extended to Holmes Avenue in Kirkwood, strongly suggests that there are appealing destinations for cyclists. In addition, individuals are regularly seen walking or riding on city streets. (Illustration 9.)

Individuals are Frequently Observed Riding or Walking on the City Street System.
The following conditions were noted along selected street segments during a windshield survey that was undertaken for this study. Also refer to photo illustrations 10-22 below. (The full street system will be analyzed and identified for potential bikeway treatments in the plan chapter to follow in a later phase of work.)
  • Lindbergh South -- good shoulders on both sides (4 to 5 feet)
  • South West on Geyer - no shoulders, scenic, 30 mph speed limit
  • Gravois (MO30) - good shoulders, appropriate rumble strip, adequate bridge
  • Gravois Road W - narrow to no shoulder, some hills, a creek along the road could support a bike path that would make a good connector from Rahning to Minnie Ha Ha park
  • West Watson - no shoulder but flat and scenic past Tapawingo, 30 mph
  • Weber Hill North of Tapawingo - no shoulder but a creek along the road
  • Weber Hill South of Tapawingo - very hilly
  • Robyn South of Maple - very steep hill, no shoulder
  • Watson Hill - no shoulders but sidewalks by Watson Trail Park
  • Eddie and Park past Lindbergh - no shoulders but sidewalks from Truman School East to Sappington
  • Sappington - both a shoulder and a sidewalk
10. Eddie & Park
  • Figure 11 Geyer facing southwest
  • Figure 12 Gravois East to Rahning
  • Figure 13 Gravois West
  • Figure 14 Note sidewalks at Watson Trail Park
  • Figure 15 Lindbergh facing South
  • Figure 16 Lindbergh South. MoDOT has installed bicycle-friendly drain grates on Lindbergh, as well as on many other state-maintained roads in the St. Louis Region.
  • Figure 17 The Trail at Minnie Ha Ha Park
  • Figure 18 Highway 30 Westbound
  • Figure 19 Old Gravois Road Bridge
  • Figure 21-22 West Watson Northbound from MO 30
  • Figure 20 Rahning facing North
The Sunset Hills Bikeable-Walkable Community Plan

B. Physical Features
This section examines a variety of physical features and conditions that will impact the development of a bikeable-walkable community plan. Also refer to the existing conditions map (Illustration 23, page 18).

1. Streets
Sunset Hills’ street system is made up of residential streets, collectors, and arterials. The residential streets in the western and southern parts of the city are primarily cul-de-sacs connected to arterials. The residential streets at the eastern edge are arranged in a more functional grid pattern, but in many cases there are few alternatives to seeking the nearest arterial. Collector roads primarily serve the Watson/Lindbergh area, in particular Sunset Hills Plaza and Laumeier Business Park, which dominates the city as its most significant land use form. The key arterials are Highway 30, Lindbergh, Watson, Gravois/Kennerly Roads, Sappington, West Watson and Rott/Robin Roads. (Illustration 24, below, provides a listing of highways, arterials and collectors.)

24. The Existing Street System

Street Name Label Limit From Limit to Class
  • Watson Watson City Limit Geyer Arterial
  • Lindbergh Road Lindbergh Road Sappington/South city limit I-44 / North city limit Arterial
  • Sappington Sappington Lindbergh Kennerly Arterial
  • Sappington Sappington Lindbergh Claire Gempp Park Arterial
  • Watson/Rott Watson/Rott Robyn Gravois Arterial
  • Robyn/Rott Robyn/Rott I-270 Geyer Road Arterial
  • Robyn Robyn Eddie and Park Lindbergh Arterial
  • Robyn Robyn Lindbergh Rott Arterial
  • Watson Watson Lindbergh Robyn Arterial
  • Charlamar Charlamar Alswell Mentz Hill Residential
  • Geyer Geyer Gravois Lindbergh Collector
  • Gravois Gravois Lindbergh Watson Arterial
  • Sappington Barracks Sappington Barracks Geyer Joan Collector
  • Joan Joan Sappington Barracks Oleander Residential
  • Oleander Oleander Joan Sappington Residential
  • East Watson East Watson city limit Lindbergh Collector
  • Alswell Alswell Kennerly Charlamar Collector
  • Sappington Sappington Claire Gempp Park Eddie and Park Arterial
  • Eddie and Park Eddie and Park Sappington/East city limit Lindbergh Collector
  • Weber Hill Weber Hill West Watson Gravois Collector
  • Hadley Hill Hadley Hill Trail Gravois Collector
  • The Sunset Hills Bikeable-Walkable Community Plan -
  • Geyer Geyer Rott Windsor Spring (city limit) Collector
  • Geyer Geyer Rott Windsor Spring (city limit) Collector
  • Rott Rott Geyer Lindbergh Collector
  • Crestwick Crestwick Sappington Barracks Doverhill Collector
  • Doverhill Doverhill Crestwick Sappington Collector
  • Leebur Leebur Hilltop Sappington Collector
  • Hilltop Hilltop Gravois Leebur Collector
  • Mentz Hill Mentz Hill Kennerly Private Road Collector
  • Kennerly Kennerly Gravois Sappington Collector
  • Kennerly Kennerly Gravois Sappington Collector
  • Denny Denny Lindbergh Sappington Collector
  • Mentz Hill Mentz Hill Charlamar Greenway Collector
  • Cragwold Cragwold Geyer Stoneywood Collector
  • Stoneywood Stoneywood Cragwold Planned Meramec Trail Collector
  • Bradford Woods Bradford Woods West Watson Opening of Common Ground Residential
  • Middlewood Middlewood Bradford Woods End of street Residential
  • Sunset Bluff Sunset Bluff Rott Laumeier Park Connector Residential
  • Sunset Hills PLZ Sunset Hills PLZ Rott Sunset Hills PLZ Collector
  • Maret Maret Cul-de-sac Lindbergh Residential
  • Chrisann Chrisann Street End Lindbergh Residential
  • Windsor Spring Windsor Spring city limit Geyer Collector
  • Old Gravois Old Gravois Meramec River (city limit) Watson Arterial
  • Matthews Matthews Roosevelt Cinema Residential
  • Cinema Cinema Matthews Robyn Hills Residential
  • Robyn Hills Robyn Hills Cinema Robyn Residential
  • Roosevelt Roosevelt Matthews Lincoln Residential
  • Rayburn Rayburn City Parcel city limit Collector
  • Monica Monica Windward Ridge Lindbergh Residential
  • Windward Ridge Windward Ridge Watson Monica Collector
  • Sunset Office Sunset Office Lindbergh Watson Collector
  • Sunset Hills PLZ Sunset Hills PLZ Sunset Hills Watson Collector
  • Sunset Hills PLZ Sunset Hills PLZ Lindbergh Sunset Hills Collector
  • Ronnie Ronnie Lindbergh Matthews Residential
  • Sunny Creek Sunny Creek Robyn Cooked Creek Residential
  • Crooked Creek Crooked Creek Sunny Creek Limestone Spur Residential
  • Country Club Grn Limestone Spur Trail Residential
  • Limestone Spur Limestone Spur Cooked Creek Country Club Grn Residential
  • Hazel-ridge Hazel-ridge Lark-ridge Denny Residential
  • Lark-ridge Lark-ridge Birch Tree Sappington Residential
  • Hedgefield Hedgefield Birch Tree Wembley Woods Residential
  • Birch Tree Birch Tree Hedgefield Larkridge Residential
  • Pagada Pagada Caddyshack Rott Residential
  • Caddyshack Caddyshack Maple Pagada Residential
  • Maple Maple Private Gary Player Residential
  • Gary Player Gary Player Maple W Watson Residential
  • The Sunset Hills Bikeable-Walkable Community Plan -
  • Fox Glen Fox Glen Trail Denny Residential
  • Saddlebrook Eddie N Park Trail Residential
  • Lincoln Lindbergh Robyn Residential
  • Wembley Woods Wembley Woods Eddie N Park Claire Gempp Memorial Park Collector
  • Timber Creek Timber Creek Robyn Lindbergh Residential
  • Sunset Ter Lindbergh Eddie N Park Residential
The Meramec River is a natural barrier to growth and travel to the South and West of Sunset Hills, but it also serves as a potential destination for bike facilities. For example, to the north at the city’s border with the City of Kirkwood, it is easily accessible using Rott and Geyer Roads north, traveling west along the north I-44 outer road, past Powder Valley and over I-270, and continuing west to Emmenegger Park (and site of the old Fountainbleu Country Club) which provides attractive access to the river.

2. Sidewalks
Sunset Hills has an incomplete sidewalk system, as shown in the accompanying photo of Robyn Road and West Watson (Illustration 25). This issue could potentially benefit from high-leverage federal funds administered through East West Gateway Council of Governments (EWCOG). This opportunity will be further explored in the plan chapter during the concluding phase of this study. Figure 25. West Watson East Bound

3. Interstates
A major impact on Sunset Hills is the division caused by Interstate 44 and Highway 270. I-44 divides the city and creates a barrier to destinations at the North End of the city such as Vianney High School. Highway 270 bisects the area near Robyn Road. The highways also make through-travel by bicycle more difficult by severely reducing the number of route choices. Essentially there are only 2 such choices: Geyer Road and Lindbergh Boulevard.

4. Public Facilities & Institutions
A variety of public facilities and institutions are located throughout Sunset Hills, including City Hall on Lindbergh near Eddie and Park Road, Laumeier Sculpture Park, Watson Trail Park and Community Center, and Sunset Country Club. Because the city recently passed a parks and storm water sales tax, it is also likely that additional public recreation facilities will be developed. Many of these facilities would be well served by an improved bicycle-pedestrian transportation system. (Illustrations 26 and 27.)

5. Natural Features
The following information was obtained from historical sources provided by the City of Sunset Hills. The city is defined by the Meramec River on the west. Here the land rises abruptly to the south of I-44 to bluffs of approximately 500 feet in height, which extends for intuit miles downriver until the land slopes gradually to form river plain. Minnie Ha Ha Park and beach is located in this area and is accessible from old Gravois Road at a point just south of New Gravois and the new river bridge. Flat, rich bottom-land characterizes this part of the city. The land then rises again to form steeply sloping hills and small valleys. To the east, along Lindbergh Boulevard, the land levels out with gently sloping terrain.

26. Laumeier Sculpture Park (Source: Laumeier website)

27. Watson Trail Park
There are approximately 11 small creeks and tributaries, many of them spring-fed. Several of these run alongside roads and could form the basis of trails. They flow to the Meramec and Mississippi Rivers. The entire area east of Lindbergh bypasses the Meramec River and flows directly into the Mississippi River. The area to the west of this line flows into the Meramec, which eventually drains into the Mississippi. The underlying rock is ideal for springs, caves, sink holes, and underground creeks. During and after heavy rains water can be seen pouring into the creeks from spots low on the hill, which are fed by sinkholes further up the hillsides. The soil of Sunset Hills ranges from good to poor. The flood plain area is a rich alluvium considered ideal for vegetative growth. It was deposited here from the hillsides through flooding and erosion. The steeper slopes have a more cherty rock material which is easily eroded and covered with very little topsoil.

The steeply sloping landforms that give the city its name are covered with climax forest including hickory, oak, and ash, which form a crown for the smaller trees of red bud, dogwood, choke cherry, sassafras, wild pear, persimmon, and other varieties. Wild flowers and grasses are sheltered on the hillsides under this rich canopy.

Insert Illustration 23. Existing Conditions


The Sunset Hills Bikeable-Walkable Community Plan

I. Existing Conditions and Analysis (October, 2007)
Trailnet, Inc., in Association with James Pona & Associates and Southwestern Illinois RC&D 19

C. Existing Bicycle Facilities in the Area and Elsewhere

1. Bicycle Facility Types
A variety of bicycle facility terms are used by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the national group that disseminates guidelines for these facilities. Some or all of these terms will be used in this study.
  • Bicycle Facility - A generic term describing any marked or unmarked street route, bicycle lane or path.
  • Bikeway - Another generic term for any road or path which in some manner is specifically designed as being open to bicycle travel, regardless of whether the facility is designated for the exclusive use of bicycles or is to be shared with other transportation modes. Key Bicycle Street. A shared roadway which, though not designated by directional and informational markers, striping, signing, or pavement markings for the preferential or exclusive use of bicycle transportation, is, or can still be, used by bicyclists. Bicycle Route. A segment of a system of bikeways designated by the jurisdiction having authority, with appropriate directional and informational markers, but without striping, signing, and pavement markings for the preferential or exclusive use of bicyclists. (Class III bikeway.)
  • Bicycle Lane - A portion of a roadway which has been designated by striping, signing, and pavement markings for the preferential or exclusive use of bicyclists. Usually couplets, each 1 in a different direction and adjacent to the outside through travel lane. (Class II bikeway.)
  • Bicycle Path - A path that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic by open space or a barrier and either within the road right-of-way or within an independent right-of-way. (Class I bikeway.)
  • Shared Roadway - A street or highway without bikeway designations. Most bicycle travel now occurs on such roadways. Shared Use Path. A bicycle path which, although designed primarily with the bicyclist’s safety in mind, is likely to attract other users such as pedestrians, joggers, dog walkers, people pushing baby carriages, persons in wheelchairs, skate boarders, inline skaters, and others. Most newer bike paths attract such users. Signed Shared Roadway. Roadways designated by bike route signs, and which serve either to provide continuity to other bike facilities, or designate preferred routes though high demand corridors.
2. Bicycle Facilities in Sunset Hills
A number of bicycle facilities exist within Sunset Hills. They are basically recreational trails in the city’s parks and are identified in the table below (Illustration 28). The city has no on-street bicycle facilities or linear trails at this point.

28. Existing Sunset Hills Trails
3. Bicycle Facilities in the St. Louis Region
The St. Louis Region has a growing network of bicycle trails. At the doorstep of Sunset Hills are 2 facilities of particular interest to which on-street and other connections could be developed by the city. They are described below.
  • Grant’s Trail - With the recent completion of the Grant’s Trail extension westward to Holmes Avenue in Kirkwood, residents of Sunset Hills now have a first class, 8.2-mile bicycle trail within a mile of the city boundaries and accessible through Sappington Road, which has wide shoulders and sidewalks. The trail is pictured in Illustration 28.
  • Meramec Greenway - Just across the Meramec River from Sunset Hills’ Minnie Ha Ha Park (Illustration 29) is Water Street in Fenton, which connects
28. Grant’s Trail to Larkin Williams Road and 3 parks (Fenton City, George Winter and Unger) with a collective 4 miles of bike paths and riverside access. Along with Minnie Ha Ha Park, these facilities are key nodes along the expanding Meramec River Greenway which is under development by the St. Louis County Department of Parks and the Meramec River Recreation Association. The project received a major boost in 2002, when the Great Rivers Greenway District (GRG), the entity responsible for development of a regional greenway system, conceptually endorsed it. In 2003, it committed $6 million for land acquisition in connection with the project.

The Meramec River Greenway will link many parks, natural reserves, cultural features, and historic sites along its 50-mile corridor. In addition to Sunset Hills, 6 other municipalities border the river: Fenton, Kirkwood, Valley Park, Wildwood, Eureka, and Pacific. An extensive amount of unincorporated land also borders it in outlying areas. The greenway will interconnect with many residential areas, commercial centers and institutions, thus expanding not only recreational opportunities for hikers and bicyclists, but establishing a major non-motorized transportation facility to which both present and future development can be connected. It will also connect to other regional facilities development by GRG, including the Missouri River and Mississippi River Greenways (30).

Other elements directly or indirectly connecting to the Meramec River Greenway are being developed by a number of entities including Fenton; Kirkwood (which has acquired ninety percent of its frontage on the Meramec River and incorporated it into its Greentree and Emmenegger Parks); the

29. Minnie Ha Ha Park is a key node in the evolving Meramec River Greenway which is currently under development.

30. GRGs River Ring greenway concept, comprising the Meramec River, Missouri River, and Mississippi River Greenways. Missouri Department of Conservation (Powder Valley Nature Center); Valley Park (the Valley Park Meramec Greenway Master Plan); Wildwood (which has a park site at Glencoe); and Eureka (the Kirchner Park trail that connects to Route 66 State Park is located on the greenway).

The Potential for Connection to Grants Trail & the Meramec Greenway
The 2 trail projects described above constitute major regional facilities. By optimizing the roads and developing trails within its corporate limits, the City of Sunset Hills could establish convenient access to this network for both residents and many individuals who work within the city. In addition, by linking to both the Grants Trail and the Meramec River Greenway, the city could serve as a principal access point for both as well as a potential destination in and of itself. In so doing, the development of these connections utilizing both on-street and trail facilities could be a critically important achievement for the city in terms of establishing a multi-modal commuting and amenity-based infrastructure for the future.

Other Trails on the Missouri Side of the Region
The Missouri portion of the St. Louis region also has a growing number of major bicycle facilities including: The Katy Trail in St. Charles and other counties along the Missouri River corridor (230 miles); the Riverfront Trail (11 miles); the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge (1 mile); the Creve Coeur Lake Park Trail (3 miles); and the Page Connector bike facility (2 miles). Excluding portions of the Katy Trail which are not located in St. Charles County, and proposed projects, St. Louis’s major bicycle facilities total approximately 55 miles. This system includes 2 important regional trail connectors: The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, which connects the 11 mile long Riverfront Trail in the City of St. Louis to the Metro East trail system; and the Page Connector, which links St. Louis County bicycle facilities with the KATY Trail. Expansions or other improvements to many of the St. Louis facilities are being funded through Great Rivers Greenway District. GRG’s River Ring concept alone, when fully developed, will result in a substantial addition of trail mileage.

Growth in the number of St. Louis trails is the result of a combination of factors, among which is their strong and growing popularity in a wide age demographic that also crosses resident, worker, and tourist divisions. Because of this wide ranging popularity, there is an economic impact outcome

31. A sponsored event on the Katy Trail. on the longer facilities. The Katy Trail, Missouri’s most popular state park, is a case in point. (Illustration 31). The American Hiking Society reported the results of a study which found that, “After just 1 season, 61 businesses located along the (Trail) reported that (it) was having a positive effect on their businesses. Eleven of the businesses reported that the trail had strongly influenced their decision to establish the business, and 17 (28%) had increased the size of their investment since the trail had opened.”

1 Trails on the Illinois Side
In the Metro East area of the St. Louis Region, there are a rapidly growing number of major bicycle facilities. Within St. Clair County, the principal facility is the Metro Bike Link, a 4 mile long bicycle path that extends from Southwestern Illinois College to North End Park in Belleville. Another facility is the Metro East Levee Trail (7.6 miles) Total trail mileage in St. Clair County is more than 12 miles. Several cities within St. Clair County also have smaller recreational trails either within local parks, or as stand alone linear trails. Madison County Transit has 8 major bicycle paths including the Bluff Trail (1.7 miles); Confluence Trail (17.1 miles); the Nature Trail (10.6 miles); the Nickel Plate Trail (4.7 miles); the Schoolhouse Trail (11.4 miles); the Watershed Trail (4.7 miles); the Delyte Morris Trail (2.3 miles); the Glen Carbon Heritage Trail (6.9 miles); and the Vadalabene River Road Trail (approximately 11 miles). The total present distance of interconnected paved trails in Madison County stands at more than 70 miles (which – for paved and interconnected trails – exceeds that available in Chicago and its metropolitan area). Several of the trails are interconnected either directly or indirectly through designated bicycle routes, to form a substantial bikeway system that affords long distance recreational and bicycle commuting opportunities (Illustration 32). Many of Madison County’s larger cities also have recreational trails located within city parks. The trails have become an extremely popular feature in the county. Some officials believe that home buyer location decisions are actually being influenced by proximity to 1 “The Economic Benefits of Trails;” American Hiking Society.

32. Madison County Illinois has more than 70 miles of paved, interconnected trails. Image source - MCT Trails Homepage. trails, and that developers are also considering trails in their development location decisions.

2 There are no major bicycle paths in Monroe County. However, the county has many key bicycle roads that are extensively used by recreational cyclists for individual and organized rides. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), has underwritten the development of many Metro East facilities, through the federal Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), and its predecessor program, ISTEA. This program was recently reauthorized. IDOT also has a policy of bicycle accommodation on its road system, meaning that it tries to facilitate bicycle movement by posting Share the Road with Bicycles signs, and replacing dangerous drainage grates with bicycle safe grates. Metro East roads have significantly benefited from this program. The formation of the Metro East Park and Recreation District (MEPRD) represents a major new trail development asset for the area. Created as a special taxing district, MEPRD plans and funds major park and greenway efforts in both St. Clair and Madison Counties.

4. Selected Facilities in Other Parts of the Country
In order to gain further insight into the scope and impact of trails on local communities, this section briefly examines selected bicycle facilities in other parts of the country, with a focus on longer facilities as well as on their economic impact.

The Ohio Buckeye Trail system is approximately 800 miles in length. It is a series of individual trails and bicycle route connectors throughout the state which are blanketed by the Buckeye Trail designation and marketed as a single trail asset by the state’s tourism office. One of the trail elements is the Loveland-to-Morrow segment of the Little Miami Scenic Trail, which joins towns of the same name.

2 “Trail now connects to popular park;” by Terry Hillig. St. Louis Post Dispatch, May 18, 2006.

33. Ice Cream Shop in Loveland, Ohio.
Approximately 11 miles in length, this trail is heavily used by both residents and tourists, and is now an important economic asset. The facility – built on an old rail corridor - was developed with state resources and extensive support from both communities. A portion of Loveland’s old downtown commercial district is located on the trail, and contains a number of prospering businesses, including the ice cream shop shown in Illustration 33, that cater to trail users.

The relationship between trails and recreational tourism has been demonstrated in many examples. The data suggest that a stronger economic future is possible for communities that develop longer trail systems where there are attractions and a coordinated marketing strategy. The Monon Trail in Indianapolis is one of many popular trails across the country. A study of this 10-mile long trail examined the “premium” that people are willing to pay for location along a greenway corridor. (Trails on separate rights of way are typically located within greenways.) All other factors being equal, it found that the typical house along a greenway sold for an average of $3,731 more than its non-greenway counterpart.

4 Considerable additional information exists on the positive economic benefits of trails, as briefly summarized below:

  • A 1992 study of the Oil Creek Bike Trail by Pennsylvania State University revealed that average visitor spending was $25.85 per day.
  • As of 1992, approximately 170,000 individuals visited the Tallahassee-St.Marks Trail in Florida every year, with daily expenditures averaging $11.
  • 135,000 people visit the Heritage Trail in Iowa, and spend an average of $9.21
  • “Nationally, trail-related expenditures range from less than $1 per day to more than $75 per day, depending on mileage covered. Generally, it's been found a [longer] trail can bring at least 1 million dollars annually to a community, depending on how well the town embraces the trail....”
  • 4 Public Choices and Property Values: Evidence from Greenways in Indianapolis; School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University. December 2003. Page 9.
  • 5 Source material: NBPC Technical Brief: “The Economic and Social Benefits of Off-Road Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities” September 1995.
Source: Economic Impacts of Trails. National Trails Training Partnership website.
This review has shown that it is strongly probable that the City of Sunset Hills would benefit from an improved bikeway and pedestrian system. Although the city’s population of individuals in the 5-to-24 age group (which includes those 17 and under who are highly likely to ride bicycles) declined somewhat from 1990 to 2000, it still comprises over a fifth of the total population. The 25-to-44 age group declined as a percentage of the city’s total population but still makes up almost 20% of it. Many of these individuals are parents of younger children who are strongly likely to already use bicycles and walking for transportation and recreation. The 45-to-54 demographic comprises 2 subgroups:
  • a) parents of adolescent children many of whom are too young to drive and would likely use bicycles more than they already do if there were an interconnected system
  • b) more mature empty nesters who as a group are likely to be experiencing renewed interest in healthy living and are interested in accessible facilities for walking and bicycling
In Sunset Hills, this age group grew by 3.9% between 1990 and 2000 – a significant gain representing 15% of the city’s total population. The 55-and-over age group makes up almost 35% of the city’s total population and grew by 3% between 1990 and 2000. This age group grew faster than any of Sunset Hills’ municipal neighbors.

A majority of the city’s population would seem to be the primary beneficiaries of a more bikeable and walkable community. There are many potentially accessible destinations for non-motorized travel. In addition to the previously noted business park, others include homes within neighborhoods and in adjoining neighborhoods, parks, playgrounds, libraries, stores, and schools.

Aside from readily-accessible destinations for bicycling and walking, public health is also an important consideration as the obesity epidemic gains increased prominence as a national issue.

In view of all of these considerations, it appears that the benefits of an infrastructure that is improved for bikeability and walkability would significantly outweigh the resources likely to be needed in order to develop such a system, and this will be more closely examined in upcoming sections and in the plan chapter to follow.