The five design team finalists in the Gateway Arch competition unveiled their proposals on Tuesday. As St. Louis Public Radio's Adam Allington reports, the plans offer a dramatic vision for the Arch grounds, but the question of feasibility and cost loom large.
St. Louis, MO – Several plans include a green cap, or lid, over Interstate 70 in downtown St. Louis, another creates an expansive park on the Illinois side. One plan would turn the old MacArthur rail bridge into a bike and footpath, another would build a gondola.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says he's not going to endorse a particular plan, and he's confident that the funds can be raised.
"This is our number one development project in the City of St. Louis," said Slay. "I think it will have that big of an impact for the city and the entire region. So, I'm committed to do everything we can to find the resources at the local, state, federal and private sector."
The National Park Service estimates the cost of the redesign around $305 million on the low end.
Ted Spade is contributor to the Weiss-Manfredi team concept. His plan, like others, involves a significant vision for the Illinois-side.
"Really what we want to do is create a full-circle path that people can engage," said Spade, "not only from downtown St. Louis, but to go all the way around to the east side and enjoy the views back to the Arch and all the new activities that we've designed for the east side."
Alex Ihnen is a member of the community stakeholder organization, City to River. His group has been an outspoken advocate of removing the portion of Interstate 70 that divides downtown from the Arch and putting a boulevard in its place. Ihnen notes that several teams appeared open to the concept.
"I think its encouraging to see that more than one team calls for removing I-70 after 2015," said Ihnen. "All along we understood was a realistic goal. We're going to have to do some long-range planning to see how it would affect the region and the city."
An eight person jury made up of national experts will pick the winning design on September 24th.
None of the five proposals carry a price tag at this point. The National Park Service estimates the project could run over 300 million dollars.
The goal is to complete the redesign by the Arch's 50th Anniversary in October of 2015.
See the designs here.