Highways Can Merge Into Boulevards

City to River’s proposal to convert the soon-to-be former downtown lanes of I-70 into an at-grade boulevard means that drivers coming into downtown on Interstates 55 and 44 from the south and 70 from the north would be transitioning onto an at-grade boulevard in front of the Arch. In both cases, the driver would essentially be on a large, multi-lane exit ramp that would end at a stoplight and intersection of the new boulevard. At 70, this intersection would be just south of  the Cass Ave. bridge. At 44 and 55, the intersection  would be at Poplar Street.

Around the country, in the hearts of other urban settings, there are many examples of highways that end, transitioning directly into the city street grid. Here are just a few:

In San Francisco, the Central Freeway transitions into Octavia Boulevard at the intersection of Market Street. Octavia Boulevard was built in the footprint of a section of the freeway that was removed several years ago.

Looking toward Central Freeway entrance from Octavia Blvd.

Looking toward Ocatvia Blvd. from the Central Freeway

In Los Angeles, drivers heading to the LA Harbor take the 110 until it transitions into N. Gaffey Street in the coastal community of San Pedro.

110 at N. Gaffey

Chicago’s Interstate 290 (Eisenhower Expressway) transitions into Congress Parkway at S. Wells Street, heading straight to Grant Park’s famous Buckingham fountain. The I-290 transition to Congress also encompasses a draw bridge at the Chicago River.

Eisenhower Expressway/Congress Parkway

Congress Parkway

photo update: Congress Parkway at State Street

In downtown Baltimore, Interstate 395 transitions into Howard Street right next to Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

I-395/Howard Street

These are just a few examples.  There are others.  Downtown real estate is too valuable to be paved over with interstate highways.

By bringing a grand boulevard to its riverfront area, St. Louis has a chance to restore the natural connectivity between downtown, the Arch grounds, and the riverfront.

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