A Monumental Makeover for the St. Louis Arch

By on August 24, 2015

From ENR.com:  One of America’s most iconic landmarks exists in one of the most incongruous settings-divided by infrastructure from the city it represents. Now, crews are rebuilding that infrastructure so that the St. Louis Arch will by 2017 be reconnected to the downtown area.

ENR visited the project as part of its Low & Slow Across America’s Infrastructure tour in May to investigate how agencies are getting important projects done in an era of constant funding battles. Those agencies included numerous public-works departments situated deep in the trenches.

In a time of tight budgets and pressing infrastructure needs, an array of private and public stakeholders pulled together to fund the $380-million project. The main agencies are the Missouri Dept. of Transportation, the National Park Service, the Great Rivers Greenway, the city of St. Louis and the Bi-State Development Agency, says Ryan McClure, spokesman for CityArchRiver, the public-private partnership formed for the project.

“Ever since 1965, [officials] have been talking about how to connect the arch to the city,” says McClure. “There have been many plans but no traction.” That changed, he added, when in 2007 St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay (D) convened a meeting of local leaders to push the issue. “A lot of the collaboration wasn’t so much the buy-in from the community as in from the leadership-the folks going around the table saying ‘I need buy-in from you and you and you,'” says Drew Gates, a MoDOT spokesman.

MoDOT led the way by applying, in 2011, for a $20-million TIGER grant and contributing $25 million. Deanna Venker, former MoDOT area engineer and now St. Louis traffic commissioner, says a new NPS plan galvanized MoDOT to take action. “We saw the writing on the wall: Everything was coming together on this project that had been around for 20-plus years,” she recalls. “There was always a money issue, it never was the right time, and we never had the right people coming together-then we had the right leadership.”

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