Over the last 20 years there has been increased awareness and interest in improving the areas of Downtown St. Louis surrounding our local national monument—the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, better known as the Gateway Arch. In 2008 the National Park Service (NPS) set out to update its General Management Plan with a desire to improve these areas chief among its concerns. During this time a major infrastructure change has been in development. Interstate 70 is being rerouted onto a new bridge located just north of the Arch, leaving a redundant piece of former highway at the door of our city. The folks at City to River came together to tackle the problem of reconnecting downtown with the Arch and our riverfront and noticed an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for St. Louis. This is our proposal:
Remove the former Interstate 70 between the Poplar Street Bridge and Cass Avenue and replace it with an at-grade signature boulevard.
As part of the updated General Management Plan, an international design competition is being held to design a solution to the reconnection problem as well as to redesign the riverfront and other areas. The winning design team is being charged to "take one of our country's first urban park sites, weave it into the city fabric, explore the role of Jefferson National Expansion Memorial as an active part of the Downtown and a contributor to economic growth, celebrate the riverfront and mitigate the divisive 'moat' of transportation around the site." We believe a simple boulevard accomplishes all of these objectives. Several issues are of concern to both the success of the competition and the future of downtown St. Louis. Our proposal addresses these issues as follows:
Reopening our front door with a new Memorial Drive does more than connect the city to the river; it connects key downtown destinations, improving access for both pedestrians and automobiles. A new Memorial Drive, running from Poplar Street on the south to Laclede's Landing and the Bottle District on the north, connects downtown's primary destinations and re-establishes St. Louis' historic connection to its riverfront. Learn more >>
Removing the depressed and elevated lanes of the former Interstate 70 through downtown and replacing them with an at-grade boulevard would be a less costly alternative to other proposed solutions, both in the long and short terms. Learn more >>
Downtown's street grid is mostly underutilized. Most experts agree that traffic moves well in St. Louis and that the St. Louis road system has excess capacity and is "self-healing". I-70 will soon be rerouted over the new bridge, making the stretch of former I-70 downtown redundant. Removing this piece will help to streamline our interstate system. A boulevard can accommodate 50,000 cars per day and people will still be able to get where they are going. Learn more >>
The new Memorial Drive will become a catalyst for continuing the $4.5 billion revitalization of downtown St. Louis that began a decade ago. The removal of the former Interstate 70 will eliminate the final barrier that has hampered development facing the Arch and in districts to the north and south. The new boulevard will provide a huge development opportunity with the creation of new and expanded buildable parcels as well as opening up now isolated districts to redevelopment. This will bring new jobs, new residents, and ultimately new revenue for the city, thereby providing the largest economic boost to St. Louis in several decades. Learn more >>
Place Making: A new boulevard will become a new landmark for St. Louis.
A new Memorial Drive will give people entering downtown and approaching the Arch a true sense of arrival. Traveling on a beautifully landscaped new Memorial Drive, visitors entering our city will see the Arch on one side and the Old Court House on the other. But currently, the elevated sections of I-70 adjacent to Laclede's Landing, the Edward Jones Dome, and the proposed Bottle District create dark, desolate spaces and block views of the Arch grounds, historic downtown architecture, and much more. Removal of the obstructive highway infrastructure as part of the plan to build a new Memorial Drive adds open space, improves views, enhances walkability, and improves the overall experience for people downtown.
City to River meets with interested groups and organizations to present our plan. If you would like us to visit your group to share our presentation, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.