Sometimes, in fact often, it takes an outsider to lay bare the self-defeating politics, wrong-headed plans and painful failures of provincial thinking. And so it goes with infrastructure planning in the St. Louis region. Yes, we're a car-centric city, but by choice, not fate. Today, significant decisions continue to be made for us, and for future generations. It's time to reset the conversation. Streets are for people and have the power to constrain or encourage economic development. Four-term Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist understood this when he successfully pushed to demolish that city's elevated Park East Freeway.
I-70 in dowtown St. Louis is now part of the Congress for the New Urbanism's Highways-to-Boulevards Campaign. CNU continues to lead the effort to reimagine and reprioritize infrastructure planning in American cities. Partnering with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, US Environmental Protection Agency and many others, CNU is the leading organization promoting walkable, mixed-use neighborhood development, sustainable communities and healthier living conditions. In short, St. Louis will benefit from listening to John and CNU. The November 29 event will be the first of several.
City to River has carried the I-70 removal torch for several years in St. Louis. The National Park Service is on record as supporting highway removal. Early this year, 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, and represents the best opportunity for the city to promote the feasbility of the project. Now, 24th Ward Alderman Scott Ogilvie is introducing resolution #174 that states, "The Board of Aldermen shall work toward removal of the elevated lanes of Interstate 70 and their replacement by a suitable at‐grade roadway upon the opening of the new Mississippi River bridge."
The movement to reconsider the priorities expressed by our infrastructure is well under way in St. Louis. Local business, the Convention and Visitor's Commission, property owners and others support beginning the process of highway conversion now. Now you can join the discussion. Click here to RSVP.