Where are we in the process?
The Missouri Department of Transportation has completed design for construction of the Park Over the Highway Project. The environmental assessment has been completed as has the associated traffic study. MoDOT will be taking bids for construction later this year. As a reminder, once the new Mississippi River Bridge has been completed and I-70 has relocated, the lanes between the Poplar Street Bridge and the MRB will be redesignated as I-44.
What reports have been generated due to this project:
MoDOT has completed the review of the environmental impact of the project and has determined this project will have no significant impact (Finding of No Significant Impact):
MoDOT has also completed the Access Justification Report (AJR). This report is required for any project that changes access to or from an interstate highway. This report has been finalized and approved by the Federal Highway Administration
What is being constructed?
The Park Over the Highway project includes:
At the I-44 and MLK interchange:
- Create access from 3rd Street to MLK on-ramp to eastbound I-44.
- Allow access on the MLK ramp from westbound I-44 to Convention Drive.
At the Eads Bridge and Washington Avenue:
- Restrict access (a right turn access from the new ramp will remain) from the section of Washington Avenue next to the Eads Bridge.
- Update and activate the traffic signals at the Eads Bridge and Memorial Drive
Near the Gateway Arch:
- Swap the ramps between Memorial Drive and I-44 (exit from eastbound, entrance to westbound)
- Remove and replace the Walnut Street Bridge
- Remove the Chestnut Street and Market Street bridges and replace them with the Park over the Highway
- Convert the Pine Street Bridge to a pedestrian bridge
- Adjust traffic flow on Memorial Drive around the Park Over the Highway
- Add auxiliary lanes on I-44 between the PSB interchange and new Washington Avenue ramps
What is the general schedule?
Work on the project will begin in mid-summer 2013 and last through fall 2015. Construction will start near the Martin Luther King Bridge, then move to Walnut. The last stretch of the project will complete the remainder of the Park Over the Highway and the associated roadway changes around the downtown area. MoDOT and CityArchRiver 2015 have coordinated extensively with the business owners and other stakeholders impacted by the project to develop the final design and construction schedule.
What are the anticipated impacts?
Map to Construction Staging Plan (linked when available)
All anticipated impacts are subject to change due to weather, schedule shifts or around major downtown events.
- Summer-Fall 2013: Off-peak lane closures near the Martin Luther King bridge. Permanently close the Memorial ramp to eastbound I-44 (MLK ramp work to eastbound I-44)will be complete before Memorial ramp closes). Close the access from northbound Washington Avenue (next to the Eads) to Memorial Drive. Off-peak lane closures at the Eads and Memorial Drive.
- Winter 2014: Close the Walnut Street Bridge for removal and reconstruction. Weekend closure of I-44 to remove Walnut Street Bridge. Off-peak lane closures on Walnut Street for reconstruction work.
- Spring 2014-Fall 2014: Narrowed and shifted lanes on I-44 between Washington Ave and the PSB. Weekend closure of I-44 to remove Chestnut and Market Street bridges. Off-peak lane closures on Pine, Market, Chestnut and 4th streets.
- Winter 2015-Fall 2015: Off-peak lane closures on Pine, Market, Chestnut and 4th streets. Off-peak lane closures on Memorial Drive. Off-peak lane closures at the MLK Bridge and Convention Plaza.
How will this affect PSB ramp updates?
The work to improve the ramps between the Poplar Street Bridge, eastbound I-44 and southbound I-55 should start in spring 2014. This work will coordinate with the work to construct the ramp to Memorial Drive across Walnut Street and construct the dual ramps to southbound I-55. There should be minimal impacts between the two projects.
How will access into downtown change when this project is completed?
People north of downtown will have one more access points into downtown than they currently have:
- Eastbound I-70 at Tucker
- Westbound I-44 at Broadway
- Westbound I-44 at Convention Plaza
People south of downtown will have an additional access point into downtown.
- Eastbound I-44 at Walnut
- Eastbound I-44 at Washington Ave
People in Illinois will have one more access point into downtown:
- Poplar Street Bridge Ramp to Walnut
- Martin Luther King Ramp to 3rd Street/Cole Street
- New Mississippi River Bridge ramp to Cass Avenue/Tucker
What will the project cost?
MoDOT has $57 million available for design and construction of this project from private, state and federal funding (including the $20 million TIGER grant).
What about requests to remove I-70?
There have been some grass roots efforts to encourage the region to remove the section of I-70 between the Poplar Street Bridge and the new Mississippi River Bridge and replace it with a roadway more integrated into the city traffic structure. MoDOT has no plans to pursue that at this time for two reasons.
First, 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). MoDOT estimates that traffic at about 60,000 vehicles daily. There are only two north-south interstate corridors in St. Louis – I-55/I-70 and I-270. This traffic would either use the proposed at-grade roadway 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. Neither option is reasonable, considering MoDOT's regional responsibility.
In addition, the CityArchRiver plan for the closing of Memorial Drive and building a park over the highway to connect the Arch grounds to the city has widespread support. Removing the interstate and replacing it with a boulevard would not solve the primary purpose and need for the CityArchRiver 2015 project—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.
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.
Although all public comment during the environmental assessment is appreciated, a public focus on suggesting improvements to the preferred alternative will ensure the best possible project for St. Louis City and the region.
Who Do I Contact For More Information?