The City + Arch + River Foundation has set October 2015 for the deadline to complete improvements to the Arch. That's an aggressive timeline for a $300,000,000 project. It's good to have a goal date because it gets everyone working together on a clear objective. Setting the goal gets momentum moving towards the date.
Teams in the Arch design competition described longer range efforts to improve downtown and the Arch beyond the 2015 deadline. One of those is highway removal. Why not set another deadline to remove the downtown lanes of I-70 separating the riverfront and Arch grounds from downtown? Having multiple deadlines creates multiple levels of momentum.
What about setting October 2020 for the goal date to replace the highway with a new boulevard? That leaves five years for building the boulevard after completion of the new I-70 bridge over the Mississippi. More people working on combined efforts, all with common interests and shared values - a better connected, more vibrant downtown, riverfront, and Arch grounds - creates mulitple levels of momentum.
The Arch design program is in its final stages. Design teams and community leaders are looking at construction plans and cost estimates. They are also finalizing crucial connections between downtown and the riverfront neighborhoods of Laclede's Landing, the Arch, and Chouteau's Landing. One option is to build a lid over the depressed lanes. MVVA, the winning team of the Arch design competition, proposed a lid over the depressed lanes, but also left north and south bound lanes of Memorial Drive passing through the lid.
In the image above, City to River suggests how a program of building the lid, removing the highway lanes, and having Memorial Drive pass underneath the lid can all be combined in a downtown/riverfront connectivity strategy. As the drawing indicates, it is possible to build a lid over the depressed lanes designed to have the boulevard ultimately separated from it by passing through an 1-2 block underpass made available through the vacation of the depressed interstate lanes.
Click on the image for a more detailed view - highlighted areas show new commercial frontage created for expansion of existing buildings and new development sites. Much better views of these connections are available through the City to River link above. It's possible to imagine how drivers could access new underground Arch parking through this same lid underpass. In this manner, the underpass and lid become a primary new entry point for drivers visiting the Arch and downtown.
Creating a phased development plan for downtown and the riverfront with multiple goals on parallel tracks builds momentum for all projects and keeps things building towards greater outcomes.