ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – For some it was simply a lengthy drive, like the father and his three children from Houston Mo., near Rolla.
For others it was an around-the-world trek, like the two gentlemen visiting St. Louis from Saudi Arabia.
But whether they came from near or from really, really far they had the exact same goal — to get to the top of the Gateway Arch.
And for many it was starting to look like it wasn’t going to happen.
“We had to leave today, so we were really happy that it opened,” explained Diane Erseg, who travelled all the way from Prescott Arizona — 260 miles of that by biking the Katy Trail — to visit St. Louis with her family.
The deal to raise the nation’s borrowing limit and end the government shutdown finally allowed the Arch to reopen Thursday at its regularly scheduled time, 9 am.
“This time of year during the week we get between 2,000 and 4,000 people a day, up to 6,000 for the weekend,” said Ann Honious, Parks Department spokesperson. “With baseball, add a couple of thousand to that.”
Making it especially fortuitous that the Arch was able to reopen just as the Cardinals arrive back in town to try and wrap up the NLCS against the Dodgers, with the Cards currently leading the best-of-7 series three games to two.
“We notice a lot of red shirts here when the Cardinals are playing,” Honious pointed out. “I think people make a day of coming downtown. They go to the Arch and then they go to baseball.”
In 2012, 2.5 million people visited the Arch, generating $20.5 million in direct spending and having a total economic impact of $225 million taking food, lodging, and entertainment into account.
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Now that the debt ceiling crisis has been solved — or at least deferred — the federal government has begun grinding back to life.
The Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis will open to the public at 8 a.m. while the Gateway Arch will be open at 9 a.m.
But according to Chief Park Ranger Jim Jackson guests who want to go to the top of the arch may experience some delays.
He says the major issue are the trams and the fact that they’ve been idle for over two weeks.
“We put it to bed, as they say. There should be no problems with it, but we’re going to want to check that out, make sure all the systems are good,” Jackson said.
Approximately 100 National Park Service workers in St. Louis were furloughed during the shutdown.
The Arch see about 2,500 visitors during weekdays, more than 6,000 on weekends and even more than that when the Cardinals are hosting the playoffs.
Check back through out the day for updates on when the Arch and its trams are officially up and running.