Thursday, March 06, 2008

Addition by Subtraction

We are taught in math classes that whenever you remove a negative, the net result is positive. When it comes to thinking about planning options, sometimes considering addition by subtraction opens up a whole new set of choices. The same idea can be applied to the I-70 depressed lanes separating the Arch grounds and riverfront from downtown St. Louis.

The image above is a computer generated perspective of the I-70 depressed lanes and Memorial Drive between the Arch grounds and the Adams Mark Hotel. The image shows that currently there are 12 traffic lanes between the Arch grounds and the Adams Mark.

If the depressed lanes were removed, there would be space for a 6-lane configuration of Memorial Drive, with valuable land reclaimed for redevelopment. With limited funding resources, developing the reclaimed space with a mix of commercial and residential uses would provide a source of revenue to help fund the capital cost of building the new Memorial Drive.


GMichaud said...

I would hope these changes could happen, but it looks like it could be a tough sell. So much work needs to be done to heal St. Louis.
That is exactly what the depressed lanes seems like, a wound in the city fabric.

Rick Bonasch said...

There's no doubt it's a tough sell. It's an expensive, complicated, bureaucratically difficult problem.

The old saying is, "know how to pick your battles". Is this one worth the effort? I think so.

The first step is to come up with some basic design ideas and then a cost. Then identify ways to pay for it. Then there's really something to sell.

A key question is to compare the costs between the proposed lid option versus eliminating the depressed lanes and rebuilding Memorial Drive.

Once we know the difference in cost, what are the pros and cons of each option? Figuring this is a once in a lifetime project/opportunty, how do we get the best results?

Another question, with all the years of looking at the problem of the depressed lanes, has there ever been a study done on the feasibility of removing them? Maybe all of this work has been done before, and it's just a matter of finding the information.

If anyone is interested in working together on this, please contact me at:


Anonymous said...

The first thing to do is rename the street. It's called "Memorial Drive", but does anyone in St. Louis know what or whom it memorializes?

If it's named after the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, what a pathetic memorial it is. It should be a great street, not a scary one.

Vanishing STL said...

I also have thought about creating development sites over the depressed lanes (with the exception of course of the block where the mall meets the Arch grounds), but of course eliminating them entirely would make this much easier, since they should not be needed once the new bridge is built. The sites would be rather narrow, but not impossible to build upon.

There is however another complication beyond convincing MODOT’s traffic engineers that the lanes will not be needed. I learned last year at a presentation by Peter Sortino of the Danforth Foundation that The National Park Service actually owns Memorial Drive and the land under the depressed lanes of the interstate. Apparently when the area that would become the Arch grounds was deeded over to the federal government, it included everything from Wharf Street to the west right of way line of what was then third street.

I am not saying that this should not be proposed, it definitely should, its simply could be an uphill battle, since the Park service has proven itself to be difficult to work with regarding the Arch grounds (in the case of the AIA attempting to get them to do something other than a ring of giant bollards around the grounds). If they could not be convinced that buildings would be a good idea, at least a landscaped median would be a huge improvement over the depressed lanes.

Just as important as dealing with the area between the Old Court House and the Arch is dealing with the area at the foot of Washington Avenue and the area to the north. Eliminating the elevated lanes of 70 here would have as dramatic effect as the elimination of the Embarcadero Freeway did in SF.

Anonymous said...

In St Lou it's all about pickup trucks, SUVs and speeding cars. Don't forget highway 40 got started with property from Forest Park that has never been returned. We want the NPS to treat St Lou different than how locals treat each other?

Anonymous said...

I just realized: that's the shadow of the Arch over the depressed lanes. Huh.