This is a historic project for our region and even our country. You don't get many opportunities to witness construction of a bridge of this magnitude during a lifetime, so it seemed like more photos are in order to help document this work for future generations to look back on. For more great info and photos of this project, click here for a NextSTL story by Herbie Markwort. I am fascinated by photos of bridge construction, especially the elegant national treasure that is the Eads bridge:
I read of someone else who suggested the Mary Meachum Freedom Bridge which would be another great call for memorializing our rich local history.
In the early morning hours of May 21, 1855 a small group of runaway slaves and their guides crossed the Mississippi River at St. Louis, attempting to reach a route to freedom through Illinois. Accompanying them was Mary Meachum, a free woman of color and the widow of a prominent African American clergyman. Even today, the activities of the Underground Railroad remain largely shrouded in mystery. This event is remarkably different because the group was apprehended and, since the slaves belonged to the prominent St. Louisan Henry Shaw, a detailed story of the escape was covered in local newspapers. Thus was preserved for posterity a rare example, with exact location, of an Underground Railroad event in Missouri – in fact, the first documented site in the state. In December 2001, the Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing was dedicated as part of the National Park Service’s Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. (source)Anything unique to the area would please me. However no such luck to date. So far politician-supported names thrown out include "Veteran's Memorial Bridge" (which the MLK bridge used to be called), Ronald Reagan Bridge (he was from Dixon, Illinois...albeit > 250 miles from STL), "Jerry F. Costello-William Lacy 'Bill' Clay Sr. Veterans Memorial Bridge" (which just rolls off the tongue) was recently shot down or "Women Veterans Memorial Bridge". Seems like we can do better, no?. But at the end of the day, people will call it whatever they want. You know the PSB is officially named the Bernard F. Dickmann bridge...but no one calls it that.
Anyhow, at an estimated cost of $667M, the new bridge was designed to reroute I-70 off of the Poplar Street Bridge which currently carries I-44, I-55, I-64, I-70 and U.S. 40. The deck will carry 4 lanes of traffic and will be able to support another lane in each direction. The bridge should be open to traffic as early as 2014 and full completion is slated for 2015. The new bridge will forever change the skyline of our great city; and could be one of the most photographed/iconic structures in the region.
The bridge enters St. Louis near Cass Avenue and will take you northwest on the existing I-70 lanes or southeast through the city eventually spilling onto Tucker Boulevard.
Tucker Boulevard or Twelfth Street has been closed north of Washington Blvd. as long as I can remember. The former Illinois Terminal rail tunnel that went under Tucker was filled in with huge styrofoam blocks and is still under construction.
This high profile stretch of road that divides Downtown from Downtown West has been an official city street since 1844. Its name was changed from Twelfth Street to Twelfth Boulevard in 1932. It became Tucker Boulevard in 1979 in honor of former mayor Raymond R. Tucker. (source)
I agree with Steve Patterson's conclusion that the glut of surface parking lots on both sides of Tucker is less than an inviting stretch of road and infill is greatly needed to make this look like a functioning urban street. This used to be a vibrant section of the city and has been whittled away over the years to make way for get in/get out auto commuters, especially the Post Dispatch employees.
Anyhow, projects this big don't come around very often, so the following is my attempt at capturing some photos of the work while still under construction and adding to the many others who are interested enough to photo document this historic project.
For many first time STL visitors, the trip down Tucker will be their first impression. The massive surface parking lots and dead zones are part of the true picture of Downtown St. Louis in its current state...until you get toward Washington Boulevard when things start to look like a real city. However, if commuters and visitors choose to look up beyond the dead asphalt expanses, you are afforded some nice views of the city skyline.
From granite curbs to island/median plantings: