The Gateway Arch is clearing space for more foot and bicycle traffic by making most motor vehicles park off site.
Demolition crews last year leveled the monument's parking garage north of the Arch where 7.5 acres of paths and park space are now taking shape. Members of the media on Wednesday toured the construction site that is slated for completion this fall.
According CityArchRiver’s Ryan McClure, there’s more than enough parking places downtown to make up for the former 1,200-car garage.
“Within a five minute walk of the entrance to the Arch, there’s about 1,600 vacant spaces on a normal day,” he said.
The so-called North Gateway will include a terraced lawn amphitheater with a 2,200-person capacity and a children’s explorer garden, featuring plant species encountered by the Louis and Clark Expedition.
In addition, winding bicycle and pedestrian paths are already in place and an elevated walkway connected to the North Overlook has nearly reached 1st Street below the Eads Bridge.
National Park Service Interpretive Specialist Rick Ziino said the project gives the park more “programmable space."
“What this area will allow us to do is have a place for people who have asked in the past if they could have a small concert or small activities on the grounds,” said Ziino explaining that such events are not allowed under the Arch due to its historic nature.
Ziino added that another goal of the project is to encourage locals to make the space part of their weekly routines.
“We hope that people that do physical fitness – walking and biking and running elsewhere – will maybe change up their routine and come down here once or twice a week or so. So it does provide us a little more opportunity for things that can happen here that we weren’t able to accommodate before.”
The North Gateway project is expected to be finished by this fall. It's part of the Arch Ground’s $380-million redevelopment plan.