Two days after plans by the five final Arch grounds design competition teams were revealed, a clear consensus is emerging that a boulevard should replace what will be the former I-70.
Local news headlines read, “Arch design finalists want major changes to I-70 downtown”, “I-70’s Exit Downtown?”, and “Most Arch design teams: Remove I-70 downtown”. The St. Louis Business Journal, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, KMOV, KMOX, KWMU and KSDK have all covered the City to River effort. As the full narrative of each design team is absorbed, it’s clear that the design teams share the goal of removing the highway.
While the storyboards being displayed publicly around St. Louis attempt to graphically depict what can be accomplished in the immediate future, each design team narrative expands in explanation and extends the development vision well beyond 2015. The narratives are only available on the official competition website and range from 77-313 pages (files are as large as 478MB). They provide a full view of each team’s reasoning and design philosophy.
With new found support for the boulevard concept, we will continue to advocate for a full study of highway removal to show how the plan will work. The good news is that we have been joined in this effort by the design teams.
Specifically, two teams have spelled out their support for City to River:
“The design team supports the efforts put forth by City to River in advocating for the removal of I-70 between Cass Avenue and the Poplar Street Bridge, and its subsequent replacement with an at-grade signature boulevard to better connect the city to the river. City to River articulates an enormous number of benefits arising from such a scheme.
Unfortunately, the scope and complexity of the boulevard conversion will likely preclude it from being realized before the October 2015 celebration. This does not, however, mean the boulevard concept should not be implemented. We strongly believe that the momentum created by the Memorial upgrades will help refocus the efforts of City to River and similar advocacy groups, realign political will towards the proposal, and lay the groundwork for the organizational cooperation needed to make the new boulevard a reality.”
“Perhaps the most important concurrent development to this project is the construction of the new (I-70) bridge over the Mississippi River. The new bridge creates redundancy in the network. We are interested in people driving into town, parking and walking. No longer will we allow high-speed through traffic imperiling people walking and their quality of life. Our plan sees downtown as a destination, not a way-station.
In the short term, we know that these types of projects are fraught with political peril. The driving public is understandably wary of change, especially anything that adds uncertainty to their commutes. Our team will produce predictive models so that we know we a) minimize disruptions, and b) minimize political heartburn. The key is to improve the situation, not just disrupt people’s lives.”
We’re encouraged that several teams have voiced strong support for the removal of I-70 in downtown St. Louis. City to River supports a design that plans for highway removal soon after the 2015 celebration, as part of a total connectivity plan.
We encourage everyone to engage in the public process of the Design Competition by viewing the designs on the Competition website or on display at the Arch and submitting your comments online or in person. Remind the jurors that ultimately you want to see the highway removed and a boulevard built.
The Competition will only accept public comments until Aug. 23, so don’t delay!
City to River thanks the Competition organizers, jurors, and design teams for this opportunity to greatly improve our city. The Competition has unlocked the door to our city, now we need YOU to help open it!