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. 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?


Unknown said...

So you support reducing highway traffic through the heart of the city? Do you know what happens to towns/cities when major highways get rerouted around them. They're less convenient to get to and they're not on the way to as many places. Understandably, this results in fewer people stopping in on that city, going shopping, seeing the sites, getting lunch, etc. I don't think that's what we want for our city. I'm OK with making the "sites" more tourist and resident accessible, but not at the expense of rerouting our lifeblood.

Rick Bonasch said...

This plan brings traffic into the city. The depressed and elevated lanes are designed to bypass downtown, the riverfront, and the Arch grounds.

Anonymous said...

If you studied Chinese culture, you would know that in your example, the depressed lanes are the "yin" and the elevated sections are the "yang".

The yang fills the yin and they become one.

Anonymous said...

People whose minds are controlled by cheap oil continue to spout nonsense that highways equal accessibility. Lifeblood comes from the heart not polluting, noisy boxes of death and destruction. Highways create the drive-through convenience which governs behavior. Even the New 64 has higher, more intrusive and elevated ramps than necessary as does the old 70. The StL region has neither the money, spirit or concern to do it right and proves once again the yang screws yin by design.

Anonymous said...

You could fill in the depressed lanes with the destroyed elevated ones, but why not also erect a tunnel to create a right-of-way for a future transit line that could extend along the highways and create a high-speed commuter rail. I also propose the construction of street running light rail on Broadway from downtown south to Soulard, Marine Villa, and old Carondelet which will not be served by the North-South future light rail.

Seth Teel said...

Rick, the Congress for the New Urbanism Agrees with you: