The renovation of the Gateway Arch grounds is being called a “magnificent project” by two presidential cabinet members.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood were in St. Louis Wednesday to celebrate a new $20 million federal grant for the project. The grant will help pay for a new “pedestrian lid” over Interstate 70 so people can move more easily between the Arch and downtown St. Louis.
Secretary LaHood says $500 million were doled out in this round of TIGER program grants by the Department of Transportation. The Arch was one of only four projects to get as much as $20 million.
"I don’t know if there’s a better holiday or Christmas gift for St. Louis than this one. But this is pretty dang good," LaHood joked before a group of regional leaders and residents in the Old Courthouse. Construction of the pedestrian lid is expected to begin next year.
The CityArchRiver 2015 initiative, which will make a number of changes to the grounds surrounding the Arch, is estimated to cost close to $600 million. Secretary Salazar says he’s confident that funding will be found to pay for the rest of the project.
"We’re going to get it done. It’s going to get done and I have no lack of confidence in our ability to bring people together to find creative ways of getting the money to get the results," Salazar said.
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Superintendent Tom Bradley said the public will be updated on the initiative next month, including information on what he called a "scaled down, leaner project." Salazar quickly noted that renovation will be completed as originally designed.
"I'm not talking about anything being scaled back," Salazar said.