One of America’s most iconic landmarks exists in one of the most incongruous settings-divided by infrastructure from the city it represents. Now, crews are rebuilding that infrastructure so that the St. Louis Arch will by 2017 be reconnected to the downtown area.
In a time of tight budgets and pressing infrastructure needs, an array of private and public stakeholders pulled together to fund the $380-million project. The main agencies are the Missouri Dept. of Transportation, the National Park Service, the Great Rivers Greenway, the city of St. Louis and the Bi-State Development Agency, says Ryan McClure, spokesman for CityArchRiver, the public-private partnership formed for the project.
“Ever since 1965, [officials] have been talking about how to connect the arch to the city,” says McClure. “There have been many plans but no traction.” That changed, he added, when in 2007 St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay (D) convened a meeting of local leaders to push the issue. “A lot of the collaboration wasn’t so much the buy-in from the community as in from the leadership-the folks going around the table saying ‘I need buy-in from you and you and you,'” says Drew Gates, a MoDOT spokesman.
MoDOT led the way by applying, in 2011, for a $20-million TIGER grant and contributing $25 million. McClure calls the grant “a huge step forward.” He adds: “At that point, it was just an idea. It had a lot of political and community support, but that was the first real large chunk of funding that came through.” CityArchRiver raised another $10 million in private donations.
KCI Construction Co.is almost finished with a $26-million contract to build the Park Over the Highway-a 300-ft-wide pedestrian bridge that will directly connect park visitors to downtown.