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Group proposes removing I-70 lanes downtown

by Diana Zoga

KMOV.com

Posted on March 1, 2010 at 9:42 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 23 at 6:12 AM

There is a lot of work and planning taking place at the Gateway Arch grounds.  The National Park Service is holding a design competition to revitalize the area by 2015 (the 50th anniversary of the competition of the Arch):  www.kmov.com/news/local/69088362.html

Nine design teams remain in the competition:  www.cityarchrivercompetition.org/

At the same time, a group of locals is asking designers to consider shutting down I-70 as a way to reconnect downtown, the Arch, and the riverfront.

City to River officially formed last March and presented a plan to remove I-70 lanes through downtown St. Louis and replace them with a city boulevard at a meeting with the National Park Service. 

Since then, the group has launched a website: citytoriver.org/

Read their presentation here:  citytoriver.org/docs/City_to_River_presentation.pdf

On the last page, the group offers a very rough estimate of what the plan would cost.  They say it would be much cheaper than a previously much discussed idea of building a tunnel along the edge of the arch grounds to carry traffic along I-70.

I checked with the Missouri Department of Transportation.  The state says it's open to redesigning Memorial Drive, but not shutting down I-70.  It says an average 73,000 vehicles travel through the downtown lanes of the interstate daily.  Despite the upcoming construction of a new Mississippi River bridge, all lanes of I-70 would still be needed.

Read about the new bridge here:   www.newriverbridge.org/

City to River is made up of architects, artists, and others interested in downtown plans.

I spoke with Rick Bonasch with the non-profit group, Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance.  He is on the City to River steering committee and writes a blog about St. Louis revitalization:  stlrising.blogspot.com/

Rick says the idea of removing an interstate from a section of downtown is not a new idea and points to other cities that have worked on similar projects including:

San Francisco:  www.preservenet.com/freeways/FreewaysEmbarcadero.html

Portland:  www.cnu.org/highways/portland

Milwaukee:  www.wisconsinhighways.org/milwaukee/park.html

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