We interrupt the long (but temporary, I promise) silence of this blog to bring you an urgent request!
Please take 5-10 minutes out of your day to submit a comment to the National Park Service regarding the upcoming Environmental Assessment for the revitalization of the Arch grounds and surrounding areas. In particular, if you are a supporter of City to River's vision for replacing the downtown highway segment (soon-to-be-former I-70) with a signature, at-grade boulevard, please let the NPS know that you think the concept should be formally studied before the design or construction of improvements that could preclude the boulevard for decades to come.
Although the "lid" (a band-aid solution to downtown's connectivity problem) is being studied in detail, there has been no effort whatsoever to study the feasibility of replacing the downtown highway with a boulevard, or a boulevard's compatibility with the "lid." As shown in this post, C2R believes that these concepts can work together, but ONLY if new highway infrastructure is not constructed in a way that physically precludes the boulevard for decades to come—which currently appears to be the road the project is going down.
The boulevard concept should not be dismissed as some half-baked idea of a handful of urban activists, unworthy of even a modicum of serious consideration. Consider:
- The boulevard is supported by many key business and community stakeholders;
- Every single design finalist for the Arch grounds project voiced support for the boulevard concept, with the winning MVVA team stating that "the benefits of removing the highway altogether are clear, and we have purposely created a proposal that is compatible with either solution" (i.e., the lid or the boulevard);
- A well-respected real estate consulting firm has identified an enormous amount of development potential in downtown St. Louis and the Near North Riverfront resulting from the removal of the soon-to-be-redundant highway segment; and
- The boulevard is representative of a larger trend that has been successfully implemented in other cities around the world, with the well-respected Congress for New Urbanism recently placing St. Louis on its list of "Freeways Without Futures".
It is unfathomable that all of this would simply be disregarded without so much as a preliminary study. City to River understands that there are concerns with its proposal, particularly relating to traffic, that need to be addressed. What the group is asking for is simply that its proposal be seriously studied to see if it is possible, before "improvements" are designed and/or constructed that will make the boulevard impossible.
Can that be too much to ask? The wholesale dismissal of this bold idea just seems unacceptable, particularly in the context of a project that has given so much lip service to being transparent and taking the public's ideas into account, and the entire purpose of which is to reconnect the City of St. Louis to the Arch and the Mississippi River.
Please click here to let the NPS know that you support the Boulevard. Comments are due today, August 30th, by midnight.