Look at this "gaping wound" of a highway
Keegan, there's a reason why smoothing access between Downtown and the Arch appeals to a bunch of smart people at:
It just makes sense. Heck, it might even make "cents." (See what I did there?)
You rightly point out that, whiners be damned, it's not really that tough to walk to and from the Arch. You stroll across a bridge over 1-70's depressed lanes, or you scurry underneath the elevated lanes. Done. Hooray!
But physical access isn't really the problem. Third-grade field trips traverse the corridor all the time and suffer no casualties (well, not yet). What everybody hates is the gloomy psychological
obstacle of a major interstate looming between us and our monument along the Mississippi.
Sure, it's just perception, but in urban economics, perception matters,
big-time. (Here's a document
detailing all the good and very real stuff that happened once Portland, San
Francisco, Boston, Milwaukee and other metropolises cleared hulking freeways
from their centers).
I know what you're going to say, Keegan.
This is all gonna cost lotsa taxpayer $$$ and create traffic havoc. The City to River
estimates - conservatively - that replacing the elevated and depressed
lanes with a flat-ish new Memorial Drive would cost $70 million.
compare that to the $524 million we dropped on the new Highway 40. We
all survived that inconvenience for a couple years. We can handle this.
fact, we might even make a little skrill on the deal. See, the new Mississippi River Bridge
construction of which is already underway - is going to allow cars and
trucks cruising across America's heartland on I-70 to bypass St. Louis
entirely to our north. That means less traffic pouring into downtown.
means we could create a sleek new Memorial Drive that would
likely free up some space for new buildings. To get a visual idea of
what I'm talking about, look at the image below cribbed from the City to
Now THIS is a downtown, people.
buildings by themselves don't create commerce. Entrepreneurs do that.
But new buildings can create a buzz, a perception of renewal that might
attract businesses, which would generate tax revenue (God knows the City
And right now is the perfect opportunity: between the new
bridge construction and renovation of the Arch
, the whole area's gonna be torn up anyway.
my dear Keegan, I don't want to get too poetic on you, but for the early
generations, the mighty river was their lifeblood, their major highway,
a big part of their identity. The Arch too, since the 1960s, has come
to stand for our city.
But if you're one of the tens of
thousands streaming in daily to work, watch the Cardinals, or wet your
whistle on Washington Avenue, how often do you make it all the way
up to the riverfront? Do you feel beckoned by that smelly, noisy
interstate standing in your path? Do you know what's lurking in the
shadows when you try to cross under it?
The crossing should be
smoother. More inviting. Less visually and emotionally obstructive. The
things on the other side of that busy thoroughfare do represent, at some level, who we are as a
: The views expressed herein should be construed only as argument for the sake of argument, and not as the personal opinions of the authors. In fact, the authors' positions in "Tuesday Tussle" are decided by coin toss.