Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Arch Super on KMOX - Gives Nod to "Lid" Idea

Tom Bradley, new Superintendant for the Gateway Arch, appeared this morning on KMOX to discuss the ongoing planning process for the future of the Arch.

In reply to a question about improving access and building the lid, Bradley acknowledged access was a major concern, and expressed support for the proposed lid and new pedestrian bridges across Memorial Drive.

There was no mention of rebuilding Memorial Drive or abandoning the depressed lanes/I-70 in front of the Arch and the Old Court House.

Bradley went on to say the planning effort will continue for quite some time, and that it will be an open, public process.

Bradley stated that hundreds of people participated in the two planning sessions held at Forest Park and the Old Court House, and that the NPS received over 2,000 comments. The comments are being reviewed now. He did not say when a first draft report would be available.


GMichaud said...

A nod to the lid is a start. I'm not surprised they did not sign on to your recent proposal. It is more comprehensive and I would say more radical, (A much better solution than the lid)
Although it is only radical in the sense that the status quo is so entrenched that to them a new porta potty would be considered radical.

Hopefully a true international architectural competition will occur. Then we can really examine options have a vigorous debate in a way that illustrates we are the democracy we claim we are. We need a true urban planning solution that connects the Arch grounds to the surrounding city.
I feel like the lid falls far short of what is really needed, but of course it is an acceptable mediocre solution that will pretend something is really happening. It is similar to most solutions we have in our society.
In fact America has become the society of white washed solutions. The first goal seems to be that we must first satisfy all of the second rate bureaucrats who rival the conduct of party politics in Soviet Russia.

Anonymous said...

The thing about the lid that seems strange to me are the flying bridges.

If I am picturing this right, there will be be skinny bridges spanning Memorial Drive over the lid. Everybody calls this the lid plan, but they really should be calling it the bridge plan.

Won't the bridges be a visual distraction from the Arch, especially from the Old Court House side? Bridges are great over bodies of water, but to connect parts of downtown? Seems manufactured and unnatural. Odd. I'd like to see a visual analysis of it.

How would they handle large crowds say after concerts on the Arch grounds? Would there be lines to get on the bridges, sort of like sheep lining up to walk over a ramp?

Getting funneled onto a bridge would feel like weird crowd control, while cars move freely underneath, only now there'd be two layers of cars under you - the hidden depressed lanes and now Memorial Drive.

Would other people take the scary walk/mad dash across Memorial Drive to avoid the bridges, surprising drivers, causing crashes? Imagine if suicidal people decided to go out in a blaze of glory, jumping off the bridge into Memorial Drive traffic, or if some stupid teens tried dropping rocks onto cars from the bridge late at night? These things happen.

Some people are afraid of heights or might feel claustrophobic crossing a fairly long, skinny bridge, above traffic, with a bunch of strangers. What if a nutcase tried to throw someone over the side?

What if you're crossing the bridge late at night and a scary looking person is walking toward you from the other side? Would that be creepy? What would the faint hearted do? Turn back or grit their teeth and keep walking?

The depressed lanes, covered by a lid, then topped by pedestrian bridges, sounds like a high cost, screwy arrangement with a lot of visual clutter.

Rick Bonasch said...

I have a copy of the Danforth Foundation's report to the Mayor. The report discusses cost ranges and design alternatives. Design options are analyzed for both the riverfront and the Arch connectors to downtown.

The assumed maximum total cost for the entire project, connector and riverfront improvements, is $200,000,000. Four connector options are shown. One is the preferred, three-block lid; the other three are scaled back, one block lids.

The three-block lid option is ruled out based on post-9/11 federal requirements for tunnel safety and the lack of land being offered by the NPS. The one-block lid options are not favored because they leave much of the depressed lane nuisances of noise and smell remaining.

It is hard to tell from the schematic drawing in the report exactly how pedestrians would cross from downtown to the Arch grounds under the three-block plan. On the plus side, Memorial Drive is shifted to the east, opening up sites with views of the Arch for development near the Hyatt and the Gateway Tower (KMOX building).

It is unclear whether the three- block lid plan uses a pedestrian bridge or crosswalks to get over Memorial Drive. A pedestrian bridge is specifically mentioned on one of the one-block lid options.

The final design will undoubtedly go through a number of further revisions. We are still in the planning stages. The entire area is under the control of the National Park Service, and not the City of St. Louis or State of Missouri. It sounds like the National Park Service will have the final say.

One of the inherent tensions in this process is that the National Park Service's interest is principally the future of the monument and its grounds, while the region and downtown's interests include the overall connection of the riverfront to downtown, which goes well beyond either end of the Arch grounds.

It will be interesting to see whether the final plan seeks to marry these two concerns or only addresses the boundaries of the Arch site.

Anonymous said...

"Planning open" (Lou talk for little hope) and Bradley doesn't want to upset Peter's DOT. Danforth's report concludes: To be fully funded, "the aggregate cost [is] $418 million... the Mayor's vision of a distinctive world-class destination and activity center is not feasible." Anyway Sally wants John to return to California to enjoy their new home. People love cheerleading here but denial rules.