Thursday, January 07, 2010

Rhode Island effort to reconnect city, river

"Removing a Barrier" (a New York Times feature story)

St. Louis has the same opportunity with plans to reconnect the City, Arch, and River. Highway removal is key to making it happen.

Lots of other cities are considering their own highway removal options. Will Arch design competition entrants be so inspired?

Removal of the I-70 depressed and elevated lanes separating downtown from the riverfront and Arch grounds might seem like an impossible dream. However, here's what the National Park Service says about it in its recently adopted General Management Plan for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (from Section 5.4 "Comments, and Responses to Comments, On the Draft Plan"):

COMMENT: The portion of I-70 adjacent to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial should be removed in order to eliminate the physical and psychological barrier it creates.

RESPONSE: The National Park Service would prefer and strongly supports the removal of the Interstate highway between the Poplar Street Bridge and Eads Bridge at some point in the future. We recognize an undertaking of this magnitude may not be possible during the timeframe this GMP addresses (15-20 years), but we would amend the GMP should such an opportunity become feasible prior to the expiration of this plan.

At Ecology of Absence, Michael Allen makes a compelling case for analyzing the potential of highway removal in connection with the rerouting of I-70 over the new Mississippi River Bridge.

While the life of the GMP is 15-20 years, improvements built through the results of the design competition will surely be planned to have a useful life of much longer than that. We are likely to live with the decisions made today for the next 50 to 100 years. Unless of course the New Madrid decides to make a major move. In that case, all bets are off.


Daron said...

that's very interesting that two universities hope to step in. What STL universities would be interested in archfront property?

Rick Bonasch said...

Daron -

You had a great idea about using this project to leverage an educational opportunity for St. Louis city school kids.

Imagine locating a downtown neighborhood school somewhere in the reopened connection between downtown and the riverfront/Arch area?

It'd be a source of pride for city public school kids.

Daron said...

I heard an interview on Smart City from the president of Portland State University and he talked on and on about how his university exists only to make the city a better place to live. They're located downtown and invested millions in public transit. Inspirational really, three entries about it on my blog already.

About public schools, I was really just commenting about Confluence Academy opening adjacent to the library. It is happening, I just hope it works out for the best.

Putting in a school on real estate reclaimed from the removal of I-70 though is your idea that I just now read. That'd be brilliant. If I grew up going to such a school, I'd be devoted to the city forever. How many Ram's players would volunteer at my school? ... probably none, but that's ok.

Rick Bonasch said...

Washington University has been a leader in jump starting discussions about reconnecting downtown and the riverfront.

This past year they held a Saarinen exhibit at their architecture school, and earlier in the year, they co-sponsored a major student design charette focused on the riverfront. It would be great if they continue to be a voice in this effort.

As far as reclaimed land becoming available for redevelopment, there has not been a detailed survey of the amount of acreage made available, but it is significant, especially in the area between Laclede's Landing, the Bottle District, and the Edward Jones Dome.