Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The 70 Connection
Here's a view of how downtown will look after the installation of the new Mississippi River Bridge. Upon completion, there will be four bridges entering the heart of downtown: the Poplar Street Bridge, the Eads Bridge, the Dr. Martin Luther King Bridge, and the new Mississippi River Bridge.
The outer two bridges, the PSB and the new MRB, will be interstate highway throughways (serving Interstates 40/64, 44, 55, and 70). The inner two bridges, the Eads and MLK, connect directly to downtown streets. The picture above shows how the new MRB, to be located about one half mile north of the Edward Jones Dome, has the effect of "stretching" downtown to the north.
Imagine the area between the four bridges connected via a new Memorial Drive. In the picture, you can see how I-70 and the elevated lanes now cut through downtown. The elevated lanes are especially noticeable. Think how the feel of downtown changes if those are replaced with a surface level boulevard. Consider the development potential for lands along this boulevard. It could be our "Miracle Mile".
Some have questioned the feasibility of constructing a new Memorial Drive prior to completion of the new MRB. With or without a new Memorial Drive, reconnecting I-70 from it's old alignment to the new bridge is going to create disruptions. The project is similar to the reworking of the I-64/I-170 interchange.
Part of the task for advocates of a new Memorial Drive is to show how these connections can happen with minimal disruptions to downtown and interstate traffic. Preliminary estimates from highway contractors place the timeframe for building a new Memorial Drive at about one year, or about the same as the completion of one leg of the new I-64.
During the construction period, as in the case of the 64 rebuild, alternative routes would need to be established, including directing traffic onto Interstates 64, 55, 44 and downtown streets.