Alderman Scott Ogilvie is trying to get City Hall to talk about eliminating the elevated lanes of I-70 to provide a seamless connection between the riverfront and downtown.
Today at the Board of Alderman's full meeting Ogilvie introduced a resolution that calls on the board to "work toward the removal of the elevated lanes of Interstate 70 and their replacement by a suitable at-grade roadway upon the opening of the new Mississippi River bridge [in 2014]."
You might remember chatter about the idea amidst the City + Arch + River design competition in 2010. An editorial in the Post-Dispatch once called that stretch of highway near the Eads bridge "the scar that separates the Arch from the public."
The resolution was referred to the transportation committee, where the committee will approve it before it returns to the full board for a vote and hearing. Even then any resolution passed by the BoA will not be binding for the Missouri Department of Transportation, which ultimately must agree to any redesigns impacting the interstate.
Still Ogilvie says it is important to get government officials talking about that elevated highway as the new Mississippi River bridge is set to dramatically alter traffic flow downtown.
"MoDOT unfortunately looks at downtown as one giant highway interchange," Ogilvie says. "Downtown is a lot more than that to the thousands of people who live and work here and the millions of tourists who visit every year."
Ogilvie points to city's like Portland, San Francisco and Milwaukee that have undertaken similar projects to successfully revitalize their downtown centers. John Norquist, the former mayor of Milwaukee, will be in St. Louis on November 29 to talk about transforming city highways into walkable boulevards.
An "all-volunteer citizens group" called City to River has been lobbying for "reopening our front door" by removing that stretch of I-70 since 2009.
City to River Mission Statement:
At the same time that the Gateway Arch was completed, Interstate 70 opened between the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial site and downtown St. Louis. Although intended to bring people into the region's center, the interstate disrupted the city's street grid and isolated the new national monument and the river from the activity of downtown. A two-hundred-year-old connection was lost. Now, St. Louis has a momentous opportunity to revisit the unintended consequences of the interstate. The time has come to reopen the region's front door.
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