MoDOT Calls I-70 to Boulevard Plan “Not Feasible” Because CityArchRiver2015 Says So

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I-70 at ArchMoDOT held a public meeting April 10 to solicit public comments on the CityArchRiver2015 Foundation’s plan to remove several blocks of downtown St. Louis streets including Memorial Drive at the Gateway Mall. The public was given 12 days notice of the meeting that was held from 3:00-5:00 p.m. in City Hall. At the meeting, three “alternatives” were presented for addressing perceived inadequacies in pedestrian connections between downtown and the Arch grounds (click here to read the nextSTL summary of the public meeting).

At the meeting, alternatives two and three were labeled “does not meet the need and purpose of the (CityArchRiver) project”. And so no alternatives were presented. Now MoDOT is responding to individuals who suggested as part of the requested public feedback that I-70 should be converted to a boulevard. MoDOT is stating that there are “two key reasons why removal of the I-70 corridor is not feasible.” (full text of MoDOT form response below)

Reason one is that the CityArchRiver plan “precludes eliminating I-70 and turning it into a boulevard.” Why? Because, MoDOT states, a boulevard in place of the Interstate “would not solve the primary purpose and need for the CAR 2015 project. A primary purpose of the CAR 2015 project is to ease both pedestrian and bike flow from downtown into the Arch grounds.  A four to six lane boulevard would restrict pedestrian and bike access, not make it better. In addition, an at-grade boulevard does not link the Arch grounds with Luther Ely Square Park and the courthouse.”

MoDOT is simply wrong. A boulevard does not restrict access in any way. Our downtown street grid connects our city. How are pedestrians and bicyclists, or people in wheelchairs going to access this new “over the highway park”? By crossing dozens of 4-6 lane streets and boulevards throughout downtown. CAR is planning to eliminate the north Arch grounds parking garage, encouraging visitors to park in existing downtown garages and parking spaces. From wherever they will park, visitors will be required to cross Broadway (to where Memorial Drive traffic will now be directed).

Arch visitors will cross Market Street, up to eight lanes crossing Tucker, and on and on. A primary goal of the CAR 2015 project is to get people to explore downtown St. Louis and not simply visit the Arch and leave. To explore downtown St. Louis, visitors will cross many streets. Closing streets, removing traditional intersections does not improve pedestrian and bike access. An intact and coherent street grid with more connections, not fewer (as is being proposed) creates accessibility.

MoDOT then claims that I-70 through downtown St. Louis is a necessary traffic route, but then invalidates that claim by stating that the elevated sections of I-70 could be removed in the future. What’s clear is the MoDOT is doing its best to serve its client, CityArchRiver. The City has abdicated its responsibility for planning to a multi-million dollar non-profit that has discouraged public feedback in its desire to remark the signature landmark in the city. You can bet that if CityArchRiver were to listen to public feedback and support the Interstate to boulevard conversion, that MoDOT would suddenly find it “feasible”.

MoDOT’s response and CityArchRiver’s stance that Memorial Drive must be closed and tens of millions of dollars must be spent to widen the depressed lanes of I-70 and rebuilding obsolete highway infrastructure must be rejected. City Hall is to blame, MoDOT is to blame, but CityArchRiver holds the key and the client. Clearly they are determined, beyond any measure justified by good design or adherence to project goals, to close Memorial Drive.

Why? Because changes to the Arch grounds at the Gateway Mall will provide the best photo-op, it’s the most high profile location. It’s where people will be able to go and say, “hey, they really changed something.” While raising Lenor K. Sullivan Boulevard above frequent flood stage and providing useful and incredibly attractive ADA ramps to the riverfront are much more necessary, impactful and commonsense, it’s the “lid” that remains the focus. Second, there’s funding for the “lid”. Neither of these reasons justifies what is a wrongheaded design for the city, residents and visitors.

It’s terribly unfortunate that CityArchRiver continues to be wedded to this “lid” mistake. Nearly all other changes proposed will have positive impacts on the visitor experience and the city itself. Those changes should be supported. If only CityArchRiver would turn its focus to the rest of the project and listen to public calls to bring the city to the Arch and not attempt to make the city a park, the community could fully endorse the plans to remake our landmark.

_________________________________________________________

From: [email protected]

Date: May 7, 2012 8:53:05 AM CDT
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Comment at MoDOT’s April 10, 2012 Public Meeting

Thank you for your recent comment as part of the April 10 public meeting to discuss the Park over the Highway project.

As part of the public outreach for the Missouri Department of Transportation’s portion of the CityArchRiver 2015 (CAR 2015) project the department received many comments about converting a portion of I-70 in downtown St. Louis into a boulevard.

There are two key reasons why removal of the I-70 corridor is not feasible:

First, the CityArchRiver plan for the closing of Memorial Drive, which has widespread support, precludes eliminating I-70 and turning it into a boulevard.  Removing the interstate and replacing it with a boulevard would not solve the primary purpose and need for the CAR 2015 project.  A primary purpose of the CAR 2015 project is to ease both pedestrian and bike flow from downtown into the Arch grounds.  A four to six lane boulevard would restrict pedestrian and bike access, not make it better.  In addition, an at-grade boulevard does not link the Arch grounds with Luther Ely Square Park and the courthouse.

Second, there are significant north-south truck and other vehicle movements that use this section of I-70 and will continue to use it after the new Mississippi River bridge opens (traffic from northbound I-55 to westbound I-70).  There are only two north-south interstate corridors in St. Louis – I-55/I-70 and I-270.  This traffic would either use the boulevard or divert onto I-270, which already has significant capacity problems.  The first would lessen many of the benefits created by the boulevard; the second would further exacerbate one of the region’s most significant congestion problems.

If, at a future time, regional leaders determine that removing the elevated lanes of I-70 is a regional priority and would be beneficial to the region, the preferred alternative design for the Park Over the Highway would not preclude that work from happening.

Covering the depressed lanes of I-70 with a landscaped walkway allows for a safe and accessible way to access the Arch grounds by all tourists and residents, including people with disabilities and young families. This design truly connects the Arch grounds to the City and the region.

v/r

Andrew Gates
Customer Relations, MoDOT St. Louis District
1590 Woodlake Dr.
Chesterfield, MO 63017
phone (314) 453-1808  cell (314) XXX-XXXX  fax (573) 526-0085
NEXTEL 140*2*XXXX

“Our mission is to provide a world-class transportation experience that delights our customers and promotes a prosperous Missouri.”

_________________________________________________________
{the existing CityArchRiver, MoDOT plan}CAR connectivity
{the existing CityArchRiver, MoDOT plan}

economic_benefits_map
{the City to River plan – citytoriver.org}

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About Alex Ihnen

Alex is the founder of nextSTL.com. He earned a B.A. in Journalism and Masters in Public Affairs at Indiana University and has studied in Adelaide, Australia and Perugia, Italy. Alex can be found on Twitter @alexihnen and reached at [email protected]

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  • The concepts that you simply just have written on this subject oppose any acknowledged concepts out there. thanks for such a refreshing viewpoint to allow U.S.A. readers altogether completely different views to reflect.

  • Chuck S

    This is very frustrating. I thought a compromise was being worked out. I’ve seen images of a plan for the lanes to be turned into the boulevard, but still pass under the highway park. That way only 1-2 blocks would be below grade. Why can’t these designers understand that connectivity is the key to this project’s success? 

  • Jacob

    I’m not against the boulevard idea. One thing I don’t understand though is the idea that there can be a lot of development along the new boulevard. While there would be plenty of room north of Washington Avenue, it just doesn’t seem feasible south of it. 
    On the east side is the park, where the park service won’t let you build any businesses, and on the west side, those spaces are occupied by the Millennium Hotel, the Deloitte building, the Sheraton, Mansion House and Gentry’s Landing, all of which have garage openings on Memorial Dr. Even if you could build something on the 20-30 feet you might gain from the change to a boulevard, I’m not sure these buildings would let you.

    I am completely against I-70, and I really like the boulevard idea. It just seems that claims of development along the boulevard are a little exaggerated.

    • Alex Ihnen

      You’re right that the biggest development opportunities are north of Washington Avenue. That opportunity and the connectivity provided by a boulevard are much more important than development south of Wash Ave. 

      However, the boulevard/I-70 is a 50-year plan. One can easily see the Mansion House complex, the Hyatt, even the Millennium Hotel redeveloped in that time period. In addition, there are existing storefronts on Memorial that are vacant. These could be reutilized. Existing buildings could build toward the Arch, add a new atrium, entrance, patio, pool, restaurant, etc. etc. etc.

      • Exactly — the biggest gain of a Boulevard is the potential development north of “downtown” (i.e. Washington Ave.) and the chance to expand that wrongfullly-accepted definition to include its actual border up to Cass.

        The Landing and Lumiere meet the Dome and Convention’s Center, the Bottle District suddenly becomes more attractive for developers and the strong (yet struggling) building stock leading up to the new bridge may just get a second life when seen for what it is at street level rather than forty feet above at 70 mph.

        For the newly-gained plots south of Washington (which, if I’m not mistaken, would go to the City), a sale of the space would occur. First right of purchase, of course, should be offered to those property owners whose buildings abut the parcels and then on from there.

  • RobbyD

    I certainly hope know one actually believes they have a public consensus on this topic. There is no doubt that many would like a boulevard next to the Arch Grounds. And I’m someone who also feels that arrangement would be superior to the situation we have now. But I also like the idea of the lid. I don’t believe however that the choice right now or in the near future is the “lid” or the “boulevard”. The bouldevard could always come at a later point in time.

    The biggest issue with connecting the Arch and the city are enough reasons for people to leave the Arch Grounds in the first place. Unless conditions are absolutely inhospitable, people will find ways to get to where they want to go.

    I also wonder if the very vocal proponents of the boulevard fully appreciate how much development ready land is available in downtown St. Louis now. What on earth gives anyone a realistic hope that vast new swaths commercial land along a boulevard would not grow weeds as many current properties do? The answer for too much supply is not always more supply, but actually might be the opposite, limiting and concentrating development into key corridors.

    • Alex Ihnen

      The real issue is making existing vacant land more valuable and attractive to develop. This is what a boulevard would do. There may be some new land/opportunities as well, but addressing exactly what you bring up is the goal. Look at the vacant land/parking lots in Laclede’s Landing, the Bottle District and elsewhere along I-70. They won’t be developed as anything, or near the potential, as long as I-70 remains.

      • RobbyD

        I am  in favor of a boulevard through downtown, but I also see many boulevards through downtown now that lack for development. I guess the argument is that the proximity to the river would draw potential investment? Is it also the argement that money will be spent on this stretch of highway anyway, so why not use these funds to improve the land immediately fronting the existing highway?

  • Honestly what has happened to our society?  Cities used to be based on where people moved.  If you look at the street grid of London it was largely based off of the movement of food and people from the farmland to the city.  I do see that this was highly unorganized and complex but now cites are based off of the cars that drive our lives. (No Pun Intended)  The city was a place where people lived in unity with one another.  Now what do we do? We drive in our isolated cars and don’t interact with people.  A majority of cities (excluding LA) have public spaces that are made famous.  This is what we need in St.Louis! A grand and welcoming public space.  New York has Times Square, Chicago has Navy Pier, Paris has the Plage.  Lets get ours!  I can guarantee that adding a huge separation between the people and their public space is a bad idea. When was the last time you ever heard someone say “Lets go somewhere near I-70.” NO, that never happens.  You hear people say “Lets go to Millennium blvd.”  Its time to wake up MoDot.  This isn’t the 1950’s any more MoDot.  Nobody wants a highway anymore unless you are going cross-country.  Lets get rid of the Elephant in the Room once and for all. 

  • Kevin Murphy

    So in a nutshell, people on this board do not look at the boulevard as aesthetic in value but functional. Like you, we do not want public money spent on simply making the connection to the grounds “pretty”… because that might bring people back one or two more times. We want to make the boulevard because it is functional and ultimately advantageous in the long run, not just short term.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Basically, though aesthetically, the boulevard would be an enormous improvement as well. If the buildings facing Memorial actually faced a street that served to connect to the city then much more could be done with what is now vacant space, empty storefronts. Today, Memorial is essentially an alley because development will not occur next to the transitioning lanes of I-70. A city street is much more attractive, yep, event to pedestrians and cyclists, than an Interstate.

      • Douglas Duckworth

        I think it’s funny that, as a symbol of modernism, the Arch seems wholly eclipsed by the highways running along side. Perhaps it’s fitting they remain as this entire project was a failure from the beginning. This would have been Saint Louis’ best neighborhood and yet it will never be that ever again. Perhaps this city will never escape its past decisions, as it’s not important enough to warrant such decisive change and lacks leadership who can or will make it happen?

  • Alex Ihnen

    The Architect’s Newspaper did a story regarding I-70 in St. Louis recently: 
    http://www.archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=5995

    • Kyle Steffen

      ^The comments at the end of the article are definitely worth reading

  • Even though it’s a good idea to remove the bunker lanes of I-70 and replace them with a boulevard, 1) first we need to complete the new highway lanes elsewhere, and 2) it’s not essential or critical to the CAR project to modify highway traffic. So, in the interest of focus, and of timely construction, and of maintaining at least some momentum behind the process of public construction projects (lest we begin building momentum: oh to dream), it should not be a priority right now (I agree with Gates/MODOT that ‘at a future time the lidpark will not preclude further changes). CAR being what it is, with the likes of GRG being major funders, it seems misguided to steer the project toward highway construction. More discussion and meetings means more money flowing into pockets instead of into evocative new museum entrances.

    I am in support of moving on from this issue; the CAR project should be primarily focused on ways to innovate the waterfront area and its immediate surroundings. 

    Additionally:

    —-“BUNKER LANES” –nobody likes being depressed.

    —-For readers who want to know more about the overall highway situation, here’s a good start:
    https://nextstl.com/transportation/st-louis-to-study-removal-of-elevated-i-70

    —-Am I nuts, or is it obvious that Tucker should be turned into the north-south highway corridor?

    • …little do I know that freeway removal is a well-precedented success with considerable support. I’d like to take that back about Tucker, and also point #1. But, I stand by 2) and regardless of how much longer they remain, I still prefer the phrase, “bunker lanes.”

  • Gary Kreie

    MODOT learned with the I-64 shutdown for two years that the public is good at finding alternative routes to supposedly vital interstate corridors.  MODOT now routinely shuts down interstate highways downtown for maintenance and repair, learning from the I-64 experience, and traffic congestion doesn’t seem to me any worse for it.

    Does anyone coming into town North on I-55 go thru downtown to go West on I-70?  Look at this map and tell me that makes sense.

    http://emed.wustl.edu/_images/metro_st.louis.jpg

    • Alex Ihnen

      Gary, this is exactly right. City to River is often asked for examples of highway conversion/removal. The best example is here in St. Louis. You can say it was temporary, but in effect I-64 was closed for two years. The MoDOT study stated that there was zero net negative economic impact to businesses along that corridor due to the closure – that is, they performed as well as business in the St. Louis region as a whole. IF I-64 had never reopened, the region would have survived. We know this from personal experience and yet we ignore it.

      • RobbyD

        To be more fair in the comparison, Hwy 40 was closed in two one year increments with “half” off line for a year and then the other “half.” It also should be considered that everyone knew sections of 40 would be reopened in the foreseeable future (within a year). I’m not suggesting that the experience has no value, but if the conclusion from the 40 reconstruction is that people will change and adapt, well, duh. Determining the long term economic impact of highway removal, positive or negative, of immediate communities probably needs other examples?

        • Alex Ihnen

          And there are plenty of other examples as well. It’s one thing to “know” that a highway will reopen, but the point is that for two years someone driving from Ballwin to downtown successfully navigated their journey. Yes, long term patterns would change, clearly the building of the Interstates has dictated, or very heavily influenced development patterns for the past 60 years.

          • RobbyD

            But your original point focued on the economic impact of the businesses along the closed down corridor, not necessarily the impact on people going from Ballwin to downtown. Those are two different issues, though related. I personally believe the removal of I-70 through downtown would not be detrimental. But the issue should be honestly looked at. Using data from temporary closures would really not provide good insight into the effects of permanent closures, IMO.

  • Douglas Duckworth

    “St. Louis’ political institutions and culture influence its ability to react to a changing environment. Rather than prescribing certian courses of action, they may delimit which strategies will be considered.” -Lana Stein ‘St. Louis Politics: The Triumph of Tradition’

  • Danny

    Look over the dozens of posts that have been submitted over the last couple of years that explain the cost savings of replacing the depressed and elevated sections of I-70 downtown with an at-grade boulevard. If you’re upset about wasteful spending, look at the $500 million+ CityArchRiver plan which will do nothing to generate new growth in the city and will be dependent upon local taxpayer funding.

  • Guest

    Hi. Common sense here. 

    Let me understand this. You want to eliminate the depressed section in favor of an at-grade boulevard. Correct?

    What’s the difference from what we have now? Memorial drive is a boulevard and MODOT just recently spent money upgrading it–those decorate crosswalks are $15-18 per square foot. So, instead of having a landscaped median–which adds maintenance costs–we have holes that provide much needed ventilation for traffic that wishes to bypass–not stop and go in–downtown.

    Are there safety concerns? Why can’t they just widen the sidewalks on the overpasses and add taller fencing?

    I know this is an election year and all, but whatever happened to the $15+ Trillion debt that this country has accumulated? Shouldn’t a group of apparently well-educated and responsible people (you) be campaigning to conserve funds and to rid the nation of debt?

    Just like Joey Edward’s special interest trolley, putting a band-aid on the Arch Grounds is something that shouldn’t be on the table when the country is in dire straights.

    Whatever happened to the repair issues with the Arch itself? Have those just gone away?

    Priorities, people. Do you all just not care how much money the government steals from you every year? How many of you can honestly say that you break even with the amount of taxes you put in? 

    I go to work to support MYSELF, as it was not my choice to be put on this planet and I know that the only way I can continue to live is to go to work to earn funds to support myself.

    Then the government, who does a very good job at misrepresentation, steals from me.

    And then I come across people like you who want to blow that money on crap like this.

    We have unaccredited schools and consistently top the lists for crime. BUT WE SURE DO HAVE A PRETTY BAND-AID ON AN OUTDATED MONUMENT!

    • Adam

      “What’s the difference from what we have now?”

      what’s the difference? really? right now we have memorial drive + a giant sunken highway. after removal, we would have a single boulevard, i.e. memorial + sunken lanes merged into one. not that hard to grasp.

      “Shouldn’t a group of apparently well-educated and responsible people
      (you) be campaigning to conserve funds and to rid the nation of debt?”

      have you bothered to consider what it costs to maintain tunnels and elevated highways vs. an at-grade road? it seems not. the current infrastructure is going to have to be repaired/replaced soon.

      “Priorities, people.”

      yes, clearly your priority is you.

      “Do you all just not care how much money the
      government steals from you every year? How many of you can honestly say
      that you break even with the amount of taxes you put in?”

      I guess we’re just not as neurotic about it.

      “I go to work to support MYSELF, as it was not my choice to be put on
      this planet and I know that the only way I can continue to live is to go
      to work to earn funds to support myself. Then the government, who does a very good job at misrepresentation, steals from me. BLAH BLAH BLAH…”

      this is almost verbatim what you said last time. no offense but it still sounds crazy. good luck finding your tax-free utopia.

      • Guest

        It’s not that difficult to transfer to/from the current I-70 and Memorial Drive. The current arrangement allows traffic to both bypass downtown and to access downtown and the arch. 

        There’s some space to fill if the depressed section and Memorial were combined. I’d suspect that the freed up space would be landscaped–in that location, landscaping is maintained by the Parks Service. I’d wager that the maintenance costs of additional landscaping would exceed the costs of repairing a median barrier from time to time… I thought of mentioning street sweeping costs but I figured they’d be a wash…

        What other types of decorations would they want along your boulevard? Decorative lights? Benches that would be used 5% of the time? Pretty trash cans that would be ignored? Maybe they’ll get smart and install their decorative crosswalks in stamped concrete.

        Isn’t everyone’s first priority themselves? Expanding, wouldn’t it be prudent to pay off the national debt as opposed to doing anything but basic maintenance to a national monument? They claim there is no money. How can we spend it on items that aren’t necessary? 

        They can put $60 million on the table toward a man worth $3.2 billion and his pathetic football team but they can’t seem to balance pensions. They can spend money on a lid or money toward your boulevard but they can’t repair the Arch?

        I most certainly understand the role of government. The government is here to provide the foundation for private success. That’s it. There are items, such as police, fire, EMS, schooling, [basic] infrastructure/misc. utilities, which benefit society on the most basic levels and I believe they are important to a successful government. I don’t have a problem with paying MY FAIR SHARE for these types of items. When the government steals money from me to pay for special interest items, I don’t like it. Transfer this thought over to the private sector. You’re not satisfied and you’ve got a solid case. What’s the percentage that you’ll get some sort of compensation? Now transfer that thought back to government. As opposed to the private sector, you don’t have a choice but to contribute and you have no viable means of recourse. You all can have as much as you want, but don’t ask me to contribute for anything beyond the basics. I bet I’m not alone here.

        Of course I’m being redundant. It’s difficult to stray from the truth. 

        • Alex Ihnen

          Look Guest – we’ve been through this before. Ranting about the government stealing from you doesn’t belong here. This is an open forum for discussing ideas regarding projects in the St. Louis area. Clearly we get onto tangents from time to time, but hijacking a comment thread won’t be allowed.

        • Adam

           “It’s not that difficult to transfer to/from the current I-70 and Memorial Drive.”

          as long as you’re in a car.

          “The current arrangement allows…”

          car

          “…traffic to both bypass downtown and to access downtown and the arch.”

          cars cars cars cars cars cars cars!

          I’d suspect that the freed up space would be landscaped…I’d wager
          that the maintenance costs of additional landscaping would exceed the
          costs of repairing a median barrier from time to time…”

          well of course. if you didn’t suspect and wager those things you wouldn’t have a leg to b*tch on. however, if you bothered to read anything that CityToRiver (and the proprietor of this site) has proposed, you’d see that they are advocating for PRIVATE DEVELOPMENT of the freed-up space. see? private. just the way you like everything. (except, of course, for the public things that benefit you. you don’t seem to mind those.)

          “What other types of decorations would they want along your boulevard?
          Decorative lights? Benches that would be used 5% of the time? Pretty
          trash cans that would be ignored? Maybe they’ll get smart and install
          their decorative crosswalks in stamped concrete.”

          yeah. really super fancy lights. WAY fancier than the ones that are already there so that, you know, they’re more expensive than the ones that are already there so as to validate your contrived argument. and i guarantee you that benches and trashcans are cheaper to buy/maintain than bridges and tunnels.

    • Kevin Murphy

      Guest, 

      I am sorry but you have not even made an effort to educate yourself on the other side’s point of view. Literally, everything you just mentioned is what people on these boards are trying to combat. 

      Go to citytoriver.org and read about what is trying to be done. Cities are complex urban communities and many believe that an at-grade boulevard would have numerous benefits. Read about it more and then see why an at-grade boulevard could very easily affect the city as a whole, including our unaccredited schools and crime rate.

      • Guest

        I’m responding to this article. The author wants the current depressed/elevated section of I-70 removed and a boulevard installed in its place. The current arrangement allows both access to downtown as well as a means for people to bypass downtown.

        By the Arch, the access would remain, largely, the same. There are overpasses that serve the Arch Grounds. There is a divided boulevard, it just has empty space as opposed to landscaping. North of the Arch Grounds, people can access Laclede’s Landing and the Lumiere Casino by simply walking under a bridge. 

        As I inquired. Are there safety concerns? Do the sidewalks need to be widened and is there a need for taller fencing? These are much better, cost effective, questions to be asking in a society ridden with debt.

        Do nothing. That contradicts both points of view.

        Did you say that this boulevard in an isolated part of the city would improve crime in North St. Louis? How’s an at-grade boulevard going to affect education? Do you have any reliable, reputable sources for this?

        I’ve seen enough footage regarding “urban renewal.” I don’t want to pay for it, especially when the existing meets or exceeds my expectations. 

        • jhoff1257

          I am also curious to see the results of your cost-benefit analysis that says building a boulevard would be more wasteful then adding more freeway infrastructure we will be paying for, for the next 50 years.  If it is reverted to a Blvd it goes back to City control.  MoDOT saves money as do tax payers state wide because only City tax dollars would go into maintaining the street.  Or at least this is what I am assuming.  I don’t’ see why MoDOT would maintain Memorial if it was reverted to boulevard.  Does anyone know the answer for this?

        • Kevin Murphy

          As a disclaimer, I typically dislike having discussions like this over message boards. Everything just gets lost in translation and points are not easily made. 

          Therefore, I will try to better explain some things…

          First off, if you don’t want to pay for “urban renewal” then that is your right. No one will force you but some will try to convince you that certain projects are for the public good…which you are a part of.
          Secondly, I realize you are responding to this article. However, most people on these boards are well versed on the issue and attempt to stay up to date. So I simply suggested citytoriver.org so that you could see the other side.

          When you say “it just as empty space” you are bringing up the thought processes which are often fought on these boards. In cities, aspects such as walkability and density add to dynamic environment.  Sure, people can still access the riverfront attractions when walking but its a pain in the a**. A jungle of highways and overpasses is not welcoming or simply navigable, especially to people not familiar with the neighborhood. 

          Finally, I would definitely argue that this boulevard could affect crime levels and education. The complexity of cities is enormous, each little thing affects another. So lets take this situation for example…

          1. If a boulevard is built and the walkability of the area increases, then businesses will likely be built all along the boulevard and in surrounding areas as a result of the increase in people.

           (You may argue that just because a boulevard is built doesn’t mean more people will come.) To this, I can easily argue that people will come when there are more incentives to…i.e. the new businesses.

          2. Also, as walkability increases and the social atmosphere of the area improves then people (typically younger) will continue to move downtown. As an example, just look at Washington Ave., nobody lived down there for years until it was revived. Now, occupancy rates in that area are incredibly high. The boulevard has similar revival potential but as it stands now, it is not walkable in the way Wash Ave. is…

          3. As more people move downtown there will be incentives and needs for things like schools, police sub stations, etc. (Again, look at Washington Ave… there are already discussions on building an elementary school in the area for the young professionals. Recently, the Language Immersion schools relocated to the area as well.) 

          4. Lastly, crime rates in the area would drop because there are simply more people around and density expands. Look at dense cities like New York, Chicago, Madrid, London, etc. In their densest neighborhoods and places where there is always stuff to do there is a lot less crime. Most criminals are not bold enough to simply rob someone when they are not alone. Plus, as more people live in the city, it gets more taxes and can spend more money on things like police forces.

          Want proof though? Watch the video by matthb above. It gives the general idea and its not coming from a guy on a message board.

          Or take a look at what St. Louis City before the highways and now. Much of the city thrived in those days and people were everywhere. It was dense, it was walkable, it was safe. Then boom… The highways come and ruin the walkability and people move to the suburbs…look at the results. There are plenty of reputable sources on the highways affect on cities. CitytoRiver.org is simply arguing to restore what worked 50+ years ago…

          • Douglas Duckworth

            Ignore this guy and send these comments to your elected officials.

          • And to expand that train of thought (which is a smartly laid out train!), the potential benefits of a boulevard don’t stop at downtown proper

            Because the boulevard has to go somewhere — that being the area where the elevated lanes are now, leading up to the new Mississippi River Bridge and connecting to Broadway. To me, the development (or at least improved access) to this area is even more vital to strengthening the City! Only by expanding peoples’ comfort zones further to the North can St. Louis take strong steps toward being a complete City.

            The new bridge is one piece of this, the boulevard should be another.

          • RobbyD

            People didn’t leave the city because of the highways. They left because they wanted to leave. I always get a chuckle when urbanists beat this drum. Would it really have been better to stand in the way of technology and freedom?

            Why this is important to me is that for the city to survive, we need better respond to the desires and wants of the people who live in the region. Not the other way around. Or pine about what would have been if only Detroit didn’t meet Washington DC. Only by reinventing this city by embracing technology and freedom will it thrive again. To use my Georgia kin slang, “we ain’t never gonna go back to de way it used to be. ever.” And nor should we. Thriving St. Louis of yesteryear had boatloads of issues and problems too.

          • Alex Ihnen

            “They left because they wanted to leave.” That’s a ridiculously shallow comment. What does that even mean? Interstate highways through cities doesn’t equal “technology and freedom”. What are you, Ted Nugent? Did other cities and countries stand in the way of technology and freedom by placing highways on their periphery? You would seem to assume that cities are the way they are because that’s exactly how we wanted them, and so how they shall remain – because changing them, reconsidering past decisions – would be going backwards. Such comments lack knowledge and context.

          • RobbyD

            The intricate dot connecting or perceived domino falling of various policies to try and explain teh decimation of many urban cores is a worthwhile effort. But from my view, most people position themselves to ultimately live where they want, not where they are told to or forced to. What I mean is that many urbanists (not all) seem to ultimately blame the car and highways for decimating many urban cores. Almost suggesting that if highways were not built or were built differently, cities would have not imploded to such a significant degree. But that view does not embrace what folks were moving to. And why I think its an important emphasis, because to correctly build the city of the future, we have to correctly understand what the modern potential city dwellers in masse would want.

          • There’s no doubt that the trend 60+ years ago — not just in St. Louis, but nationally — was a move away from central cities. The massive highway systems aided that move (as should be expected), but wasn’t the full cause.

            But there’s also no doubt that its construction through the central city (again, not just here), destroyed neighborhoods and significantly lowered adjacent property value/livability.

            I think the boulevard plan has the most merit as an effort to allow a second chance to those neighborhoods.

          • Adam

            “People didn’t leave the city because of the highways. They left because
            they wanted to leave. I always get a chuckle when urbanists beat this
            drum.”

            well, i think your dismissal is pretty chuckle-worthy itself. an assortment of things made people want to leave. the highways were a big part of that whether you care to admit it or not. the highways came through and decimated city neighborhoods. meanwhile detroit and suburban developers made sh*t-loads of money luring people to the suburbs with the aid of government policies.

          • RobbyD

            It seems to me that other cities have highways, elevated trains, and commuter rail ribboning through neighborhoods, too, bypasses and interchanges allowing entry or through driving of urban areas; and also have thrived. If the city were what people desired, if the city were superior to suburban options in the minds of many, people would have stayed despite the highways. It seems to me that much of what the city was (in broad terms do I mean city here) was a result of available technology. You had to be close together, practically and really, to get many things done. That is no longer an absolute reality.

          • Adam

            “Why this is important to me is that for the city to survive, we need
            better respond to the desires and wants of the people who live in the
            region.”

            no, i think the city needs to respond to the desires and wants of people who live in the city, and those who WANT to live in a city. saint louis has catered to the “region” (i.e. suburbs) for 60+ years; how has that worked out so far? how, exactly, is the city going to survive by making it easier to bypass? what, exactly, is your definition of a city? a big entertainment district? that’s been tried already. a few times. it failed. is the city just where people go to work? that’s an office park. and though i’ve never lived in one, i would imagine that it sucks. a city that “survives” by becoming a giant interchange is no longer a city.

    • Kyle Steffen

      I’m going to assume this is the same “guest” who has posted on this topic before. If you feel so strongly about what this country is going through, then put your name out there and fight to change it. Posting as a guest on a blog and venting misplaced frustrations is not going to help anything. This plan is more expensive than the boulevard alternative, and the majority does not want it to happen. Guest, don’t bother posting anything in response to me, I will not respond.

      • Guest

        Oh no! Someone’s not going to respond! I send plenty of correspondence to the politicians. Most of them ignore me. There’s no need to reveal my identity on an open forum such as this as, simply, there is nothing to gain.

        I’m just here to imply that you all are the ones being selfish. Most people don’t have the means for a lot of niceties that we take for granted and they would benefit a whole of a hell lot more if the government didn’t unnecessarily steal from them…

        • Douglas Duckworth

          The public interest is often a selfish.

    • jhoff1257

      See I don’t consider it “stealing.”  I don’t have a problem giving the Government money if it means I get to live in a better more livable City.  Sorry but I want St. Louis to succeed, I want St. Louis to grow and be a better place.  I’m just not naive enough to think we can do it without public money.  I also like how you mention our schools.  So are you OK with spending public money on our schools, because that’s probably the only way to fix them.  Also the crime thing is bogus.  If I have to explain why, you obviously don’t live in the City, and really don’t have a say.

  • matthb

    Just saw this video on highway removal today…
    http://bikefriendlyoc.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/video-on-freeway-removal-projects-around-the-world/
    Nice 5 minute summary.

    • Nice video. Succinct and generally applicable. Total highway removal without replacing the lanes… it’s a new idea to me. Where can I see the other side of this, I’m wondering? Have there been any highway removals that were failures, and that would be great to learn from?

  • Kyle Steffen

    I just received this email and immediately came here to post on the forum. Pissed off, offended… doesn’t even begin to describe the rage inside.

  • And if you ask C+A+R about the boulevard, they’ll say that roadways are MODoT’s territory and their hands are tied.


    At this point, the talking point has become so silly — how, oh how, can we get people to the Arch safely and without interruption?! — that it has me seriously questioning the purpose of this project at all. I’d laugh about it, but it’s so frustratingly backwards.-Whether it’s a full boulevard or our current street-level/depressed section set-up, it’s only a hundred-and-twenty freaking feet at designated crosswalks, people! Do project heads and traffic planners think we’re so slow-minded and ill-equipped for city life that we need unfettered access to the park?! Should everyone get their own personal transport tube to shoot them off to their destination free of the perils of slow-moving vehicles (gasp!) and traffic signals (oh no!)?-I’ve said before that the boulevard will be done only if C+A+R has trouble raising funds from donors. The plan they’ve created is uninspiring on several levels and the proof is in the coffers. If they want to get the money rolling in on this, they’d be wise to consider the potentially transformational boulevard concept. I hate to cheer for failure, but every C+A+R struggle to raise funds pushes the scales a little bit more toward the City to River plan.

  • jhoff1257

    This is laughable.  Like, actually funny.  The contradictions, quotes like “widespread support,” seriously?  Who supports this other than the cronies at MoDOT and CityArchRiver.  The people that actually will use this (the ones who don’t support it) have yet to have a say.  Only in St. Louis.

  • Yeah its been long a fact that I-70 thru traffic (especially truck traffic) always favored 270 anyways.  The locals up in North County and in parts of Madison County see 270 as a lifeline and every time that artery gets severed nobody can get around.  The depressed section I-70 on the other hand will be rendered obsolete when that new bridge opens, not to mention its at the end of its useful life.  MoDOT really needs to restore Memorial Drive, dump that section of what will eventually be I-44, and rebuild some streets on the west end of downtown (Jefferson/Salisbury, etc.)  I just hope by the time that MoDOT does hold the second round of I-270 north county corridor studies that they do that project right cause it appears sadly that IDOT doesn’t want to do a damn thing with their segment at all.  (The Canal Bridge project won’t even solve the problems, it will only add to the problems.)

  • Will Fru

    Delight?  MoDOT’s stated mission is to “delight” us?  Whoever wrote that mission statement hasn’t walked across the depressed lanes to the Arch grounds.