Efforts to transform the Gateway Arch grounds and surrounding areas downtown have reached a major milestone along the Mississippi River. The public is invited to attend a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday afternoon to mark the completion of a $33 million central riverfront redevelopment project. The work finished along a 1.5 mile stretch of Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard, from Biddle Street south to Chouteau Avenue, is part of a dozen projects making up CityArchRiver Foundation’s $380 million plan to revitalize the Arch grounds and better connect them to the rest of downtown.
“It’s the first of them to have a ribbon cutting ceremony,” said Susan Trautman, executive director of Great Rivers Greenway which oversaw the construction.
The regional parks and trails district is focused on building a region-wide system of interconnected greenways known as the River Ring and “the riverfront project is the keystone – the backbone to the River Ring”, said Trautman.
Riverfront construction began in November 2013 and was split into two phases to allow access to Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard and tourist amenities, including the riverboats and helicopter rides.
Project manager Carey Bundy said construction costs totaled about $25 million with $15 million coming from federal government and the rest from local sales taxes.
The riverfront upgrades include:
· New protected walking and biking paths.
· Riverfront elevated by an average of 1.9 feet to reduce flooding and increase public access year round.
· Preserved historic elements, including levee cobblestones.
· New amenities including benches, bike racks, street lights, power outlets and a street-level stage.
· Mississippi Greenway extended 1.5 miles south from the Biddle Street Trailhead to Chouteau Avenue, connecting to the new sloping pathways and circulation loop on the Gateway Arch grounds and into downtown St. Louis.
Great Rivers Greenway, the City of St. Louis, and the CityArchRiver Foundation are hosting a "Picnic on the Riverfront" to celebrate the transformation of the St. Louis riverfront Thursday afternoon. The event is planned to start at 5 p.m. and billed to feature St. Louis' largest ever community picnic, with a 2,016-foot-long picnic table and fireworks display afterward.