Archive for the ‘events’ Category

Small Change in LKS Boulevard Should Bring Big Changes to Arch Grounds

Friday, January 20th, 2012

While much of the attention regarding the upcoming changes to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (Arch Grounds) that are being led by the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation (CAR) have focused on the “lid” connection to Downtown and removal of the Arch parking garage to re-open the north end, important changes are also planned for the riverfront.

Due to fluctuations of the water level of the Mississippi River, Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard is often under water during the spring and summer months when the Arch Grounds attracts the most people. This leaves the riverfront inaccessible and limits the experience to views from above or descending the grand staircase to the water. Image above and maps below courtesy of CAR & MVVA.

MVVA has developed a solution to this problem: Raise the elevation of the boulevard. The level of the roadway will be raised from two to three feet along the entire length of the JNEM from the Eads Bridge to Poplar Street. North and south of the bridges, the roadway will transition back to its existing level.

Beyond simply raising the roadbed, the raising and re-building of Leonor K. Sullivan will include an extension of the Confluence Greenway Riverfront Trail which currently starts just a few blocks north of the MLK Bridge at the Ashley Street power plant. Along with the extended trail will be pedestrian and lighting improvements.

The new raised boulevard will also allow the riverfront boats to remain in operation by allowing them to extend their ramps across the flooded levee to the sidewalk during high water.

Many details will need to be worked out with the plan to raise Leonor K. Sullivan. This earlier rendering from MVVA showed the levee seamlessly blending with the boulevard, eliminating the awkward level changes, second roadway and entirely eliminating parking from the levee. It is unclear now how whether level of the levee will change as well whether parking will be allowed along the new boulevard. The water marker pylons in the water though have apparently been eliminated. A public presentation by CAR and MVVA later this month will hopefully answer some of these questions, but so far, the concept seems to bring vast improvement to the existing conditions along the riverfront.

No news is bad news: It’s time to consider best available options for Arch grounds

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

After nine months of little news, the plan to redevelop and renew the
Arch grounds was presented by Michael Van Valkenburg at an American
Society for Landscape Architects (ASLA) – St. Louis Chapter event
Tuesday at the Forest Park Visitor’s Center. The roughly 25-minute
presentation provided no new information. Though the presentation was
not made available to the press or public, Van Valkenburg stated that
several slides had been presented previously. All images offered
appeared to be the same as those offered at the January public
presentation.

A slide at that presentation depicted reversed I-70 ramps at
Washington Avenue, the removal of the north parking garage, closure of
Washington Avenue adjacent to the Eads, the “lid” over the depressed
Interstate lanes, ADA ramps to the riverfront, and the reconfiguration
of Third Street at Laclede’s Landing. In addition, the south gateway
adjacent to the Poplar Street Bridge and addition of land on the east
side were shown as not being completed by October 2015.

Although these elements were shown in January, they were not
explained. Several elements, such as the removal of the water gauges, remain unexplained. The headline from that event was the announcement that a
gondola over the Mississippi River, originally offered by the Behnisch
design team, had been added to the design plan in lieu of other
considered south gateway options. Now the news, as reported by the St.
Louis Beacon
and Post-Dispatch, seems to be that what we saw in
January has been confirmed. Aspirations for 2015 have been officially
scaled back.

This isn’t necessarily a negative, as it should allow us to more fully
consider the unique opportunity to recreate our city’s relationship
with our iconic monument and river. It is a positive step for the
CityArchRiver organization to have Michael Van Valkenburg
communicating with the St. Louis community. However, the lack of any
additional information after nine months begs more questions.

The initial rejection by competition organizers of the City to River
presented plan to convert I-70 between the PSB and new Mississippi
River Bridge to an urban boulevard focused on the project’s assumed
inability to be completed by October, 2015. CityArchRiver has now
confirmed that much of the initial design plan, including very
significant elements such as expansion of the east side park, south
gateway and gondola will not be completed by October 2015. Why, then,
does the City to River option, supported by many St. Louis businesses
and organizations, and all five of the competition’s finalist design
teams, remain unconsidered?

Has there, in fact, been any revision or refinement of the design plan
first presented in January 2011? Why not spell out any changes and
explain the process involved? How has the design team arrived at the
decision to close city streets, reinvest in Interstate infrastructure
and reconfigure traffic patterns? Is this choice based on a
longitudinal traffic study?

The standing $578M effort to reinvigorate the Arch grounds could not
have more significant public implications. Why then, does the process
continue to be opaque and uninviting to public input? What incredible
contrast to the very public Forest Park Forever process that has
rewarded the St. Louis region with one of the very best large urban
parks in the nation.

It’s time to consider not only the most expedient, but the best
available options in the remaking of our region’s front door.

Tour the Iron Horse Trestle and Learn More About Reconnecting ONSL with the Mississippi River

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Illinois Terminal Railroad Trestle (STL Post Dispatch Image)

Although City to River has become associated with our advocacy and vision for downtown St. Louis, our mission remains

to improve the quality of life of the St.
Louis region by reconnecting its urban core to the Mississippi River through
the implementation of physical improvements and sustainable programs

In these efforts we are also devoting attention to improving connections between the North Riverfront and adjacent neighborhoods. City to River is pleased to announce that our associates at City Affair have put together a picnic event on Thursday, July 7th focusing on initiatives to reconnect the Mississippi River with St. Louis City.

The centerpiece of the event will be a walking tour of the Iron Horse Trestle, the electric rail viaduct slated to become the third elevated linear park in the world. In order to realize this vision and put St. Louis alongside Paris and New York Great Rivers Greenway faces significant challenges. Todd Antoine, Deputy Director of Planning for GRG, will discuss how they plan to connect downtown, Columbus Square, and Old North St. Louis to the Riverfront Trail.

Phil Valko, Active Living Program Manager at Trailnet, will discuss plans to rebuild Branch Street as a seamless at-grade connector between Old North St. Louis and Hyde Park and the Riverfront. City to River has previously mentioned community input sessions for the project, and we continue to offer assistance as the project progresses.

Jennifer Allen, Program Coordinator for Trailnet, will address St. Louis Development Corporation’s RFP (Request for Proposals) for 3,000 acres of the North Riverfront of St. Louis. This area represents over 1/3 of the entire Mississippi River riverfront and the $800,000 study will likely chart the course of development for the next generation. NextSTL has suggested setting aside 1% of the total study area for pedestrians and recreation, but an even larger portion would bring larger dividends for both residents and tourists.

A seamless connection between neighborhoods and the Mississippi

For more information on the picnic please see the City Affair Website or their Facebook Page

As a reminder, you can follow City to River on Twitter for updates on our work reconnecting St. Louis with its waterfront.