Adjacent to the now two-lane Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard below the Gateway Arch, paths are lined with old chains and cobblestones that were along the riverfront before major renovations began.
The renovated 1.5-mile stretch along the St. Louis riverfront is set to open to the public on Thursday, according to the Great Rivers Greenway District, a collection of regional parks and trails in St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County.
Bike racks, benches, LED lights, new signage, power outlets and a street level stage to allow for events and programs to be hosted. The work is part of $380 million worth of renovations and upgrades around the Gateway Arch.
The riverfront renovation itself cost about $25 million, and began in December 2013. The project was paid for with a mixture of federal dollars and local sales tax that funds the Great Rivers Greenway District.
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The entire riverfront was elevated an average of 2 feet to limit flooding.
Raising the level of the street and new paths allows the greenway district to have fewer days when flooding takes place, which is normally during the summer months tourist season.
Last year, from mid-May through August, the riverfront was flooded, said Carey Bundy, project manager for Great Rivers Greenway.
“It will still flood from time to time, but not during that prime season,” Bundy said.
Bundy added the greenway district hopes to have more vendors along the riverfront.
It will still flood from time to time, but not during that prime season.
Carey Bundy, project manager for Great Rivers Greenway District
“We want tourists to come to St. Louis, we want St. Louisans to enjoy the river,” Bundy said.
Stainless steel guardrails along the riverfront have withstood three floods during construction, Bundy said.
“The guardrails held, we didn’t have any bending or any breakage,” Bundy said. “We’re very happy about that, we built this project to last.”
Historic elements were preserved such as cobblestones lining the levee, and old chains along the bike path between stanchions, and are along bike and walking paths.
“These are the historic elements that make the riverfront unique,” Bundy said.
The project included the relocation and one-and-a-half-year restoration of the “A Captain’s Return” statue.
The statue, which depicts the return of Lewis and Clark and their dog to St. Louis, was near to the Eads Bridge, and was under water every time the water rose to a high level.
The renovation of the paths, which is part of the CityArchRiver project, was done to improve safety and accessibility.
As part of the renovation, Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard was reduced to two lanes from four, in order to make room for the bike paths and walking paths along the 1.5-mile stretch.
Renovations along the riverfront beneath the Gateway Arch, is part of the $380 million worth of work taking place around the Gateway Arch grounds.
The riverfront extends from Biddle Street south to Chouteau Avenue. It will also connect to new pathways and circulation loops on the Gateway Arch grounds and into downtown St. Louis.
The bike path connects to the Mississippi Greenway, a bike path that runs all the way to the old Chain of Rocks Bridge.
When the north and south Gateway Arch grounds open in the fall, they will have accessible paths that come down to the riverfront.
“Once they do, we’ll have accessible paths coming down from the arch grounds to the riverfront, which has never been the case,” Bundy said. “We’re really excited about that.”
The entire CityArchRiver project is costing about $380 million and is being paid for with a mix of private and public dollars. Construction began in 2013.
Among the components of the overall project are: 11 new acres of parkland, 5 miles of bike trails, new spaces for events and performances, children’s play areas, an expanded Museum of Westward Expansion and a renovated Old Courthouse.
The project includes a renovated Luther Ely Smith Square, which opened in November.
The Arch grounds are expected to open in the fall; Kiener Plaza work, the expanded museum under the Arch, and old Courthouse renovations are expected to be completed in 2017, said Ryan McClure, communications director for the CityArch River Foundation.
Picnic on the Riverfront
An evening picnic is planned for Thursday in order to celebrate the new St. Louis Riverfront beneath Gateway Arch grounds. People will have the opportunity to tour the new riverfront, listen to music, purchase food, or bring their own food.
- 5 p.m.: Ribbon cutting and remarks.
- 6:15 p.m.: Interfaith blessing, aerial photo, and community picnic.
- 8:30 p.m.: Brief fireworks display over the Mississippi River
There is a parking lot at the intersection of South Poplar Street and Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard. There is no longer parking along LKS. People can access the riverfront from the Laclede’s Landing MetroLink Station.
Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard is scheduled to open to automobile traffic on Saturday.