Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Arch's Park-over-Highway Bridge Completed, Ready for Landscaping Work

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Arch's Park-over-Highway Bridge Completed, Ready for Landscaping Work

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * In the race to complete the $380 million overhaul of the Gateway Arch grounds, workers hit another mile marker Thursday, wrapping up construction of the bridge over the highway and preparing for the dirt, grass, flowers and trees to come.

The bridge, 97 feet wide and 274 feet long, stretches over the depressed lanes of the newly named Interstate 44 downtown, and provides the concrete and steel framework for the park that will be planted on top of it.

Deanna Venker, area engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation, said workers now had only to build the storm water drain system. "We are inches away," she said Thursday. Then the department will hand off the project to landscapers who will build pathways, erect benches and tackle the tricky task of planting trees on a bridge.

When landscaping finishes this coming fall, Luther Ely Smith Square will stretch from the Old Courthouse across the highway to the Arch grounds.

Walter Metcalfe, chairman of CityArchRiver, the foundation coordinating the work, called Thursday's announcement "a major step forward."

"It is the underpinning to connect the city and the Arch grounds," he said. "We should stop now and celebrate MoDOT's accomplishment; they have accomplished so much so quickly, with as little disruption as could be imagined."

But renovations are now largely underway across the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

Workers contracted by the Great Rivers Greenway trails district are raising Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard out of much of the flood plain of the Mississippi River and adding public gathering spaces, plus bike and pedestrian paths. The southern leg will open to vehicles at the end of December. Construction on the north section has already started.

Tree removal has begun on the Arch's south grounds, in preparation for new, beetle-resistant species and more fertile soil.

The north parking garage is scheduled for demolition in January, to be replaced by a grass amphitheater and garden, opening up pathways under the Eads Bridge into the historic Laclede's Landing entertainment district.

And the Museum of Westward Expansion will begin expanding this coming spring, reaching toward downtown and getting a new entrance facing the city. …

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