Construction underway on St. Louis arch-river project

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- After years of debate and discussion, work finally got underway, Monday, on the massive project that will eventually put a park over the top of Interstate 70, close Memorial Drive, and connect the Gateway Arch Grounds the rest of downtown.

It began with no fanfare at all.  MoDOT crews simply showed up, and began working in areas near the base of the Martin Luther King Bridge.  It’s the first step in a re-making of downtown traffic patterns.

“Right now we’re going to be working around the MLK bridge and that’s going to be updating some of the ramps or improving some of the ramps and improving access from Third street,” MoDOT spokesman Andrew Gates said.

He anticipates little impact on downtown traffic for the time being, but concedes this early work is a sort of “calm before the storm.”

“This is the start of it,” Gates said.  “We’ll have a little bit more major impacts as we go through the year.”

The bigger changes will come next April when portions of Interstate 70 will be closed for bridge demolitions over the depressed section.  Also a number of streets in the area will be diverted as work is done pointing toward the closure of Memorial Drive in the area.

Tourists in the area seem to like the concept.  Most don’t seem to mind the current configuration, but concede dodging a few less cars will be nice.

“That’s a great idea.  Better for safety and all of that,” Illinois visitor Steve Brandt told us.  “Especially little kids.”

The entire project is slated for completion in 2015.