There is just over a week left to comment on the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the implementation of the City Arch River 2015 plan for the Arch grounds. City to River supporters of a new Memorial Boulevard to replace the depressed highway lanes that separate the Arch grounds from Downtown should be aware that the EA excludes the one-block wide “Lid” project between Market & Chestnut Streets and closure of Memorial Drive. This portion of the City Arch River 2015 plan is already funded and will begin construction next year.
City to River suporters should understand though that a new Memorial Boulevard IS still possible north of Washington Avenue with removal of the oppressive elevated highway lanes and would provide needed connections between Laclede’s Landing, Downtown and the Edward Jones Dome as well as improve development prospects for the Bottle District site and the area north of the Lumiere Casino and Four Seasons Hotel. Please include in your comments that no work should be done that would hamper this transformative change that would re-unite the City and the Mississippi River.
The Environmental Assessment document covers three scenarios for the remainder of the items envisioned for the grounds, a “no-action” alternative, a “moderate change” alternative and a “maximum change” alternative. An online comment form can be found near the top of the page linked above that contains the EA document and components for viewing. Please use this to give your opinions about the various aspects of the project before midnight on March 1st.
Of particular interest for the “maximum change” alternative is the north end of the park which would include removal of the existing Arch parking garage and also removal of Washington Avenue from Memorial Drive (which will be reduced to a highway exit ramp) to Leonor K. Sullivan. While this stretch of Washington was shifted slightly during the construction of the Arch, it is one of the oldest surviving connections to the riverfront, and should be improved with a new streetscape, instead of being removed. With the garage removed, it is still quite possible to construct the new lawn and landscaped accessible pathway without completely removing the street.
It should be noted that re-building Leonor K. Sullivan into boulevard that will include a dedicated bike path, a pedestrian promenade as well as driving lanes has also been funded and it was announced this morning that this project will be fast-tracked due to savings with the lid. City to River enthusiastically supports this element of the overall project which will provide better.
City to River also endorses several other aspects of the overall City Arch River 2015 plan including new accessible paths flanking the areas north and south of the grand staircase and renovation + expansion of the Arch Visitors Center & Museum of Westward Expansion with a new west entrance near the present location of Memorial Drive. The new west entrance will work in conjunction with the parking strategy recommended by a parking study that was completed to address parking with the removal of the current Arch grounds garage. The strategy involves directing Arch visitors to underutilized parking garages in the Downtown core including the Busch Stadium East Garage, the Kiener East Garage and the former St. Louis Centre East Garage on Broadway. City to River endorses this strategy as it will encourage Arch and riverfront visitors to explore Downtown St. Louis and patronize businesses in the core.