Sales tax increase to bring improvements to Arch area

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 | 6:09 p.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — Visitors to the Gateway Arch area in St. Louis can expect big improvements in the coming years, according to organizers of an effort to upgrade local parks and tourist spots.

CityArchRiver 2015, a civic group organized to improve the area, announced details on Tuesday of planned improvements, now that voters in St. Louis city and county have approved a sales tax increase. The money will pay for upgrades to the Arch grounds and the area around the Arch, along with new hiking and biking paths in the city and county and to parks.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the project includes a $33 million redesign of Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard, the downtown street that runs along the Mississippi River. It calls for a 10-foot-wide bike path, light towers than lean over the road, new benches and stainless-steel guardrails.

The street will also be raised 2 1/2 feet to better keep it away from floodwaters.

Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2014 and finish by the end of 2015.

Improvements are also planned to the Arch museum and the Old Courthouse, which is the historic site of the Dred Scott case.

"We want to make the museum experiences at the Arch and the Old Courthouse accessible and relevant to a wide variety of audiences," said David Donoghue of Haley Sharpe Design. "The stories we are developing for these museums will explore both the story of America's westward expansion and also provide more focus on St. Louis' pivotal role in that story."

Construction will start on the "lid" and park over Interstate 70 this summer, Missouri Department of Transportation engineers said. The lid will connect Market Street directly to the Arch grounds. Currently, pedestrians have to cross an interstate overpass, which  creates a disconnect between the Arch grounds and the rest of downtown.

Passage of the 3/16-cent sales tax supplements private donations and other funding for the Arch project. Organizers say fundraising efforts continue.


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