ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–Put a lid on it  — that’s what organizers hope to do with the depressed lanes of Interstate 70 downtown, after the feds announce a $20 million grant for the project.

“The depressed lanes on I-70 have been an obstacle to the Arch for almost 50 years,” said Missouri Department of Transportation Director Kevin Keith, “and this grant will allow us to change that. Just Imagine, you’re going to be able to walk from the Old Courthouse to the Arch across grass and trees, essentially a whole new approach to the Arch grounds.”

Keith says design work for the lid has already begun and actual construction could get underway “sometime next year.”

Big picture — the lid is part of an ambitious $570 million redesign of the Arch grounds announced a year ago.  But federal budget problems and a slow recovery have raised doubts about whether there’s enough money to pull it off.

“We’re going to get it done.  It’s going to get done,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, “I have no lack of confidence in our ability to bring people together to find the money to get the results.”

Planners says they’ll unveil a strategy on January 24th on how they plan to get the public-private project complete by 2015.

In the meantime, Missouri Congressman Russ Carnahan says he looks forward putting a lid over I-70 downtown.

“I will be so happy to stop calling this the depressed section,” Carnahan said, “Let’s eliminate that from the St. Louis vocabulary.”

Copyright KMOX

  1. Ed Golterman says:

    Far more important, if St. Louis hopes to regain overnights-stays travel and conventions business is to maximize use of Kiel Opera House (now Peabody) and
    Scottrade, do the parking and develop the Municipal Courts Building. This is the region’s civic center and it has been dead for 2 decades. The Arch is a good- weather drive-in and drive out attraction. Our dead downtown in the wintertime shows its limited value. It is seasonal like the Cardinals, Rams and Blues.
    ‘Seasonal’ doesn’t make a downtown.

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