Sunday, January 04, 2009

New Mississippi River Bridge Project

ABOVE: MoDOT's map of the Ultimate Project Concept for the new Mississippi River Bridge project.

The project website is located here.

On the Ultimate Project Concept page, note the proposed roadway changes at the Missouri and Illinois connections to I-70, at Cass Avenue in St. Louis, and at I-64/55/44 near the Old Cathedral.

Due to a lack of funding, the new MRB project has been significantly scaled back. The current phase is to build a 4-lane bridge. The ultimate concept is to build an eight lane bridge.

Is there a way to leverage the bridge project into plans for reconnecting the downtown area? According to the website, meetings are planned to address the issue of urban design.

Maybe it's worth trying to make the a case that the ultimate bridge concept is "shovel ready" for the Obama stimulus package, and that the downtown reconnection work comes in as phase two?

1 comment:

GMichaud said...

I think the problem is not one of leverage, but a failure of government to think globally in any way. There should be a framework already in place speaking to exactly the question of the arch grounds and a new bridge.
A side question might be why is McKinley on the South not being renovated instead? It is a sound bridge that already carries rail. Its reuse would not disrupt and destroy yet another large swath of the central city. (A working planning framework might already indicate how McKinley Bridge fits in.) Is the new north side bridge being built at the behest of the casinos?
That aside, it is in fact a technical question (as well as aesthetic) that points to a lack of a planning system. The integration of the arch grounds with a bridge crossing the Mississippi should be a major question and a priority of any planning strategy. There should be no need to leverage if government officials are doing their job.
Handled properly, as you suggest, a bridge coupled with a strengthened downtown core with the Arch as a focal point, could be a powerful statement of a revitalized St. Louis.
There is every reason to delay the bridge and include it in an international design competition for the arch.
In any case I would not finish drawings on a bridge without a full understanding of what is going to happen to the environment surrounding the Arch.