Highways-to-Boulevards Campaign: St. Louis
Two projects are currently shaping the future of transportation for the greater St. Louis area. These projects include the proposed downtown removal of I-70 in favor of a pedestrian friendly boulevard and the addition of the South County Connector to increase connectivity of surrounding highways.
When I-70 divided the city of St. Louis from the Mississippi riverfront in 1964, it devastated the vitality of the downtown area and isolated one of the most iconic architectural treasures in the United States, the Gateway Arch, from the city. According to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) “the downtown lanes [of I-70] are one of the least traveled sections of interstate in the Saint Louis area. Currently the majority of approximately 70,000 vehicles per day in this section are traveling through Saint Louis to points west. With the rerouting of I-70 it is probable that that amount of traffic could be reduced by greater than 50%.”
A General Management Plan was completed by the National Park Service in 2009 and resulted in a design competition offered by the National Park Service calling for the “framing” of the Arch by reimagining its connections with the City of St. Louis, the Mississippi River, and Illinois, which will reinvigorate and reintroduce the Arch and Jefferson National Expansion Memorial back to the community of St. Louis. The NPS “prefers and strongly supports the removal of the Interstate highway."
In February 2012, the St. Louis Development Corporation requested, “proposals for [a] downtown multimodal access study,” including a riverfront connectivity plan and specifically to "address the potential removal of the elevated sections of I-70 from north of Pine St. to O’Fallon St ." This request is a tremendous step toward revitalizing the downtown riverfront and converting I-70 to a boulevard. Acting as a city-wide voice, a group of volunteers formed the City to River movement in 2008 to improve the overall connectivity and beautification of the riverfront with downtown St. Louis. Their most high-profile effort is planning for the removal of I-70. With their guidance, efforts are underway to demonstrate the substantial benefits of converting the highway to an urban boulevard.
South County Connector
The St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic has instituted a project to examine the South County Connector corridor to improve thoroughfare congestion, enhance interstate connectedness and increase mobility throughout south St. Louis County, the City of St. Louis, and central St. Louis County. The SCC project is currently in the initial stages of the Environmental Impact Statement submission process.
The SCC project studies the possibilities for increasing the connectivity of Interstates 44, 64, 55, and 170 while providing an ease of access to surrounding areas such as south St. Louis County, the City of St. Louis, and central St. Louis County. In September 2012, SCC submitted the initial draft of the Environmental Impact Statement to the Federal Highway Administration for evaluation. The next step is a formal public hearing and opening the SCC EIS draft submission for evaluation.
CNU is working with Trailnet and City to River to explore alternative infrastructure options that create more economic and social value in the St. Louis region.
Upcoming Events and Activities
Save the Date on November 29 for a lecture with John Norquist entitled “Re-Thinking Our Streets: The Value of Flexible Street Design.” Norquist will talk about the value of designing streets for people and the implications in the case of I-70 and the proposed South County Connector. He will also discuss CNU’s flexible street design standards and how to apply sustainable transportation policies in St. Louis.
Further Information & Articles
"St. Louis Set to Study Removal of Elevated I-70" - Alex Ihnen, City to River, nextSTL
"Reopening Our Front Door" - City to River
South County Connector Project: EIS and Location Study
St. Louis County Highways and Traffic
I-70 and St. Louis Arch, source: MoDOT
South County Connector "Area of Influence", source: SouthCountyConnector