Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hwy 44 through downtown to be extended?

Highway 44, part of the interstate highway system that replaced old Route 66, starts in St. Louis at Interstate 55 and runs southwest through Tulsa and Oklahoma City, where Interstate 40 then takes you the rest of the way to California.

In St. Louis, 44 ends when it meets 55. 55 then continues east and north, across the Mississippi and north to Chicago. For a short distance through our Metro East, 55 and 70 share the same road till they split at Troy, Illinois. The interstate in front of the Arch, including the depressed lanes, is part of Interstate 70.

With the new Mississippi Bridge, this may soon change. If 55 crosses the Mississippi at the Poplar Street Bridge, and 70 crosses to Illinois north of downtown at the new Mississippi Bridge, what will they call section of interstate including the depressed lanes in front of the Arch?

According to a lively discussion at the Urban St. Louis forum, the plan is to designate the stretch Interstate 44. The majority view at Urban St. Louis seems to favor removing the depressed lanes altogether, although there appears to be a lack of direction in how to do so.

According to an inquiry with the Federal Highway Administration, decisions to close sections of interstate highways are deferred to the individual states. So MODOT has the deciding voice in policy affecting the future of the depressed lanes.

If a St. Louis delegation of community leaders were to rally around a plan to vacate the depressed lanes in front of the Arch, the next step would be to seek the cooperation of MODOT.

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