Vice President Biden visited St. Louis earlier this week to view the improvement project underway on the grounds of the Gateway Arch. He said the project was a model of public-private partnership.
But how is the project coming along? CityArchRiver Communications Director Ryan McClure appeared on St. Louis on the Air today to give an update on the project’s progress.
CityArchRiver is the organization charged with spearheading improvements, and is comprised of the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation, the National Park Service, Missouri Department of Transportation, Metro (Bi-State), Great Rivers Greenway District and the City of St. Louis.
According to McClure, the project’s timetable has been delayed somewhat. While many parts of the project will still be completed by the arch’s 50th anniversary on October 28, 2015, the museum and a few other elements will not be finished until 2016.
Construction on the roads and riverfront are underway, and progress can be viewed on the CityArchRiver website courtesy of strategically-placed webcams. The arch will remain open during construction, but road access will change.
“Every part of this project is really geared towards raising the visitor numbers at the arch, and encouraging people who come down to the arch to stay longer there, not just at the park but in the region,” said McClure.
In recent years, attendance at the arch has tapered off by a million a year. Prior to 2005, approximately 3.3 million visitors came to the arch grounds each year. Now the yearly average is 2.3 million.
“These improvements we know will at least bring visitorship back up to where it used to be,” said McClure. “And when those visitors stay a half day longer, you get the [economic impact of] one additional Cardinal’s baseball season each year.”