Lochmueller Group (Lochgroup) was a member of the team selected to develop a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Plan for the Center of Research, Technology, and Entrepreneurial Exchange (Cortex) in St. Louis. Cortex is an emerging technology and innovation district located between Washington University Medical Center, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and St. Louis University. The project was funded by a Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant awarded to St. Louis by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development.
At the time of the project, the 240-acre district had developed just two buildings, but implementation of a new phase of development has since occurred, including two more buildings and a significant investment in public infrastructure in the form of an outdoor plaza known as Cortex Commons. The district’s 20-year Master Plan calls for bringing more than 10,000 jobs to the area and over 500 new residents.
The district is bisected by an existing MetroLink line but the nearest station is not within walking distance. The purpose of this project was to generate ridership projections for a new MetroLink station serving Cortex, thereby providing justification for additional studies. Improving connectivity to adjacent neighborhoods, developing a TOD plan, and engaging stakeholders were also major elements of the project. Lochgroup was responsible for applying the regional travel demand model, maintained by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, to estimate daily boardings at the station.
The regional travel demand model in CUBE required extensive recalibration to more closely replicate observed transit usage. This effort was likely the most comprehensive review of the transit model’s accuracy since its initial development. Due to a series of transit service reductions and restorations, as well as a change in transit boarding count procedures, the model was predicting significantly more transit trips in the region than were actually occurring. Numerous model adjustments were introduced to bring predicted transit trips in line with observed. In addition, several tools were developed to post-process the model output and quickly produce boardings by access mode (drive, bus transfer, walk) for each station.
After initial ridership estimates fell short of benchmarks, recommendations to improve connectivity to adjacent neighborhoods and to modify the composition of uses in the district’s master plan were recommended to attract additional ridership.