Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, and state and city officials and other partners today broke ground on the "Park over the Highway' project, the first component of the CityArchRiver 2015 initiative to revitalize and improve access to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, home of the Gateway Arch.
The "Park Over the Highway' project will feature a landscaped structure over Interstate 70 and reroute surface traffic which currently forms a "moat' separating the Gateway Arch from the Old Courthouse. The "Park Over the Highway' and other components of the project will be funded with a mix of public and private funding. A TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded in 2011 provided $20 million and the Missouri Department of Transportation matched it with $25 million in state funding while the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation contributed $10 million in private funding.
"The revitalization of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is a high priority under President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative and is a model of the kind of public-private partnerships that are a hallmark of what we are seeking to do across the country to establish a network of great urban parks," Interior Secretary Jewell said. "By integrating the Gateway Arch and grounds into the fabric of the city and region, these improvements will greatly improve pedestrian accessibility, provide increased opportunities for outdoor recreation and invite more people to fully enjoy the natural beauty, culture, and history of the area."
"The Arch is a symbol of America's relentless pioneering spirit. Combined with today's project, it is also a reminder of the difference we can make when we all work together," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "This project will reduce congestion, improve access to the Arch, and ensure safety for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike, while generating economic growth along the Mississippi River and putting people to work building a stronger America."
U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill said, "The Arch is known the world over as a symbol of this great city--the gateway to the west--and Missouri's rich history in the story of America. Now, with today's groundbreaking, we're another step closer to a revitalized memorial that will strengthen the community, and open up new opportunities for St. Louis families and businesses. I'm thrilled for the chance to help launch the next phase of this worthy investment."
Officials gathered today trumpeted the economic benefits of the project to the city of St. Louis. In 2011, more than 2.2 million people visited the memorial, contributing $97 million to the local economy and supporting 1,252 jobs.
According to CityArchRiver, the improved access and expansion of the memorial is expected to increase visitation, extend the average stay of visitors in the city, benefit restaurants, hotels and other businesses that serve tourists and add 4,400 permanent jobs to the region.
"This project is an example of creating a 21st century urban park that is relevant, connects people with places and ideas, and boosts the health of metropolitan areas across the country," said Walter Metcalfe, Chairman of CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation. "The Park Over the Highway is the indispensable first phase of an overall transformation that will enhance the Arch experience for all visitors."
Metcalfe noted that the Missouri Department of Transportation entered the project during the early planning phase and was critical to its progress and completion.
"MoDOT has been a partner in this project since its inception," said Missouri Highways and Transportation Commissioner, Kenneth Suelthaus. "We are proud to be leading the efforts to construct a lasting legacy that will improve the visitor's experience to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial for future generations to come."
The CityArchRiver 2015 plan includes other major components on the Gateway Arch grounds including an expansion of the underground museum, new exhibits and a new west entrance; landscaping improvements and programming space at the north gateway; a revitalized riverfront; accessibility improvements; development of accessible walkways to the riverfront and expanded programming and amenities on the grounds. Projects at the Old Courthouse include accessibility improvements and new exhibits.