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Upgrades to ground Arch trams starting Jan. 4

The Gateway Arch soars 630 feet. Traveling to the top takes four minutes; traveling back down takes only three.
Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

There are just a few days left to take a tram to the top of the Gateway Arch before it closes for at least two months. The trams and underground visitors’ center have remained open throughout CityArchRiver’s massive $380 million renovation project at the Arch grounds, but they’ll have to close on Jan. 4 for museum upgrades and other improvements.

"There are a lot of inconveniences, a lot of reasons for people not to come right now."

During the closures, workers plan to rebuild the mechanical motor generator sets of the Arch Tram System and the interior roof the underground Arch facilities. The south leg of the grounds will remain open, and pedestrians will still be able to walk to the main staircase and riverfront, said Frank Mares, deputy superintendent of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

“There are a lot of inconveniences, a lot of reasons for people not to come right now, to be quite honest, and I think a lot of people feel like they would wait,” he said.

Tram rides and some aspects of the Arch’s visitors’ center will reopen in March or late spring. The expanded museum, which will include new exhibits, a larger floor plan and a new entrance facing downtown, is scheduled to open in 2017.

The closures next month, said Mares, have been timed coincide with the park’s slowest season of the year for visitors. According to Mares, the number of visitors has decreased by 20 percent to 25 percent since the project began in 2013.

“Basically we should be in the bottom,” he said. “This should be the valley. We’ve still got another year plus of construction, but the grounds should open back up by next summer so we should start to climb after this year again.”

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