City to River Effort Picked Up by USA Today

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{the City to River vision of a new Boulevard – from www.citytoriver.org}

USA Today had a short piece yesterday on cities "removing concrete barriers," but added, "not by tearing them down but by shrouding them in greenery and turning them into parks and pedestrian-friendly developments." City to River and Rick Bonasch of STL Rising stand in for St. Louis. But City to River is advocating for tearing down, filling in, removing, I-70 once the new Mississippi River Bridge is completed and replacing it with an at-grade boulevard similar to Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

The USA Today story also covers Dallas, Santa Monica, Los Angeles and Cincinnati; all cities with plans to "cap" a section of highway to create parkland. The images below of of the proposed Dallas solution, courtesy of USA Today and of the current I-70 trench adjacent to the Basilica and Arch grounds in St. Louis as it exists today.

The outcome of the current City+Arch+River design competition will not be known for months, but it is clear that at least one finalist, Weiss/Manfredi, will likely embrace the existing infrastructure surrounding the Arch grounds and likely address current barriers in a fashion similar to the other cities mentioned in USA Today and similar to one of their previous projects, Olympic Park in Seattle. It's good to see the effort in St. Louis mentioned, but let's keep our eye on the ball and make sure that St. Louis doesn't put an expensive, inadequate band-aid on a problem that's divided our city's most valuable assets for decades. Let's remove I-70 from downtown.

St. Louis has a choice: we can either join the movement that shrouds Interstates in greenery, disguising tears in our urban environment, at an incredible cost, or join the movement that says we can save money, open up new development opportunities, reconnect our city and create a vibrant front door for pedestrians and motorists alike.

From USA Today:

 St. Louis. A design competition is underway to connect the Gateway Arch grounds and downtown over I-70, which divides the two. A non-profit citizen group, City to River, proposes removing a section of the interstate that is not needed since traffic has been shifted to a new bridge north of the Arch.

Turning it into a 1.4-mile boulevard and parkway would "create more valuable real estate, close to the Arch," says Rick Bonasch, a member. "This boulevard would connect downtown casinos, hotels, sports stadiums and the historic riverfront."

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