Thursday, October 02, 2008
Yin, Meet Yang!
One of the most unsightly features of our downtown are the old, 1960s-vintage, elevated sections of interstate highway. One section lines the southern edge of downtown (alongside the new ballpark and Sheraton hotel). The other separates Laclede's Landing and the north riverfront area from the north side of downtown. These hulking structures block sunlight, surface access, and obstruct views.
One of the ideas we've looked at is how downtown, the Arch grounds, the riverfront and Laclede's Landing could all become better connected. The connectivity issue is a major question under consideration in the ongoing National Park Service planning for the future of the Arch site. To improve these connections, one idea is to build a three block lid over the I-70 depressed lanes. The estimated cost of the lid project is north of $100,000,000.
An alterntative approach to improve connectivity is the idea of replacing Interstate 70 from the Poplar Street Bridge north to the new I-70 Mississippi River Bridge with a new Memorial Drive. This concept involves filling in the I-70 depressed lanes in front of the Arch and removing the elevated lanes between Laclede's Landing and the north side of downtown. That requires heavy construction - demolishing the elevated lanes and filling in the depressed lanes.
Question...if demolishing the elevated section of I-70, we need a place to haul away the debris. Second...to fill the depressed lanes we need a source of good, clean, fill. Is there a possible marriage here?
What if the debris from the demolition of the elevated section of Interstate 70 could be used to fill in the depressed lanes? What would that do to the cost of the proposed rebuilding of Memorial Drive?
Having an immediate source of fill right next to a fill site, and having a place to use debris from demolition right next to a demolition site means major cost savings. This is a cost saving opportunity seldom seen. Usually projects pay high costs to import fill or haul away debris. In this case, we reuse all rubble from demolition right on site.
Could the case be made that not only is the New Memorial Drive alternative the most affordable way to reconnect downtown, the riverfront, and the Arch, but also the greenest?