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Our Proposal: A New Front Door for St. Louis

Connectivity: A boulevard will weave our city back together.

Removing the highway and creating a new Memorial Drive restores a wide range of connections currently severed by Interstate 70. An at-grade boulevard returns an active and connected street grid to downtown St. Louis.

A boulevard will create direct connections for not only bikes and pedestrians, but cars as well. Cross-points are currently limited on Memorial Dr./I-70. Cars can only drive under the elevated lanes at Washington Ave and over the depressed lanes at two cross-points for each direction (Walnut and Chestnut going east, Market and Pine going west). Adding more east-west connections will improve traffic flow. The boulevard will allow for up to 10 additional cross-points for automobile traffic.

Reopening our front door with a new Memorial Drive does more than connect the city to the river, it connects key downtown destinations. A new Memorial Drive, running from Poplar Street on the south to Laclede's Landing and the Bottle District on the north, connects downtown's primary destinations and re-establishes St. Louis' historic connection to its riverfront.

Assets that will be connected include:
  1. Bottle District
  2. North Riverfront Development District
  3. America's Center
  4. Edward Jones Dome
  5. Lumiere Place Casino
  6. Laclede's Landing
  7. Washington Loft District
  8. Central Business District
  9. Gateway Mall
  10. Gateway Arch
  11. Ballpark Villiage
  12. Busch Stadium
  13. Chouteau's Landing
Connections Between Downtown Districts and Attractions
download map (PDF 928K)

Connecting a National Monument to Downtown St. Louis

Connecting the Gateway Mall and the Old Courthouse to the Arch grounds is indeed important for creating a unified National Monument and a clear link between our downtown and our greatest civic symbol. But we can do more. Reducing the great gulf between the park and the city allows for the creation of new city blocks for an expansion of our CBD and new economic development. This healing of the urban fabric would be accomplished by the removal of the depressed lanes and replacing them with an at-grade boulevard.

The lid and underground tunnel that has been proposed only covers a few blocks and fails to add a single access point for either pedestrian or automobiles. The elevated lanes and transition areas create a wall between our city and our river.

The tunnel is a three-block solution for a 20-block problem.

Connections on the South

Our national park is also cut off from Busch Stadium, our future Ballpark Village, and Downtown South due to the elevated lanes of I-70.

The on and off ramps of the Interstate 55/64/70 junction are a tangled mess creating a barrier that is impossible to cross on foot or in a car. Their removal would create a more humane space. Visitors could see Busch Stadium from the park and walk directly to a baseball game. In the process we could also discover new connections between downtown and the future Chouteau's Landing development.

Connections on the North

The elevated section to the north is just as serious of a barrier to our downtown development.

The Loft District along Washington Avenue containing the City Museum, art galleries and historic buildings leads right up to the highway where development comes to a halt. A new Memorial Drive would directly connect Laclede's Landing, the park and the Eads Bridge Metrolink station.

The boulevard would connect currently isolated attractions and places into one large entertainment and tourism district. These include America's Center and the Edward Jones Dome to the west and Lumiere Place Casino and Laclede's Landing to the east of the highway.

Convention visitors would feel welcome to eat lunch on the Landing and still make it back in time for their next event. The current elevated Interstate tells pedestrians that they do not belong, that the space is meant for high-speed traffic. There would be a freer flow of people and investment. With a new Memorial Drive, the Edward Jones Dome could be at the center of a football village of its own. Rams fans before and after games would enjoy the surrounding districts and feel more welcome. Fans and users would use Metrolink more easily as well.

Further to the north additional areas await redevelopment. These include the Bottle District and the North Riverfront Development District --a reawakening of our industrial past with new residents and excitement.

Who wants to live next to a highway? This looming hulk of visual clutter, air and noise pollution, robs us of economic development between some of the most exciting districts in our city. Removing the elevated lanes of the interstate to the north and south is the only way to realize the full potential of what could be the most valued real estate in our region.

Strengthening the North-South Spine

A tunnel concept will not add a single east-west connection and does nothing to improve the north-south environment for pedestrians or automobiles. Right now, going from the south end to the north end of Memorial Drive is a visually disturbing and unappealing trek. On the west are the gray concrete backsides of buildings and hideous parking garages looming over a narrow sidewalk. It is not a walk anyone takes for pleasure. On the east side of Memorial Drive, the situation is only slightly improved. The park grounds provide some visual respite, but still the jarring contrast between the trees and open space of the park grounds and its hostile border begs for a solution. We can do so much better with an at-grade boulevard designed for pedestrians, transit, and traffic, with appropriate greenness to welcome the Arch grounds to the city with a friendlier border.

Learn more about:

Connectivity >>
Cost >>
Traffic >>
Economic Benefits >>

Find out about:

The history of our riverfront >>
The City+Arch+River Design Competition >>
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