salazar lahood 1 Salazar, LaHood laud Arch upgrade plan

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood at a news conference in East St. Louis, December 10, 2010. (UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) — The St. Louis region has an opportunity to “create one of the iconic national parks of America” with revitalization around the Gateway Arch, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Friday.

Salazar was joined by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in a tour of the Arch and the area around it. They spoke to the media from a park directly across the Mississippi River in East St. Louis, Ill. The park could also fall under National Park Service operation as part of a sweeping project to remake the area around the 630-foot tall monument to westward expansion.

LaHood agreed the revitalization effort could set a standard for other urban parks to follow.

“We will be full partners in fulfilling a big dream, in creating a legacy project for the people of the Midwest,” he said.

The Arch was completed in 1965 and is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial that also includes a museum beneath the legs of the Arch, the “Old Courthouse” where the Dred Scott slavery case was heard, and a large expanse of park land.

Civic leaders have long argued the grounds were underutilized, and that the area around the Arch is too hard to get to from the rest of downtown St. Louis. Interstate 70 separates the grounds from the rest of downtown. Pedestrians have to cross a bridge and cross busy streets to make the walk.

(Copyright: The Associated Press)


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