Key Connector for St. Louis Trail System Acquired
St. Louis, MO, 12/30,2005 -The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced that a two-mile stretch of an abandoned rail corridor running through St. Louis’s Produce Row will be protected and transformed into a biking and pedestrian trail connecting the underserved neighborhoods north of downtown to the area’s emerging trails system. The nonprofit land conservation group acquired the corridor earlier today from Ironhorse Resources, Inc. and conveyed it to the Great Rivers Greenway District (GRGD).
The corridor, which includes a historic steel trestle, will be developed by the GRGD into a biking and pedestrian route, connecting densely populated neighborhoods north of downtown to the McKinley Bridge Bikeway and the Branch Street Trestle Connector, as well as the popular Riverfront Trail along the Mississippi River.
GRGD paid $1.5 million for the property, well below the appraised market value. This is the third project TPL has completed since 2001 with GRGD.
According to David Fisher, executive director of GRGD, elevated sections that wind through industrial areas, over Interstate 70 into downtown St. Louis, the route will be a wonderful interpretive and historical experience, as well as an opportunity to enjoy the many unique views of the urban landscape of north St. Louis.
“This corridor is a particularly important addition to our emerging network of trails and greenways encompassing the region,” said Fisher. “The trestle, which will ultimately connect to the McKinley Bridge Bikeway and Branch Street Trestle, will be a vital link to Missouri and Illinois, providing opportunities for citizens to access residential, employment, cultural and recreational areas.”
Fisher added that until now, only New York City and Paris, France have successfully initiated programs to convert historic elevated railroad viaducts into linear recreational amenities. In New York City, the elevated High Line (www.highline.org) currently is being transformed into a one and a half mile long promenade on the West side of Manhattan for pedestrians to move between Penn Stations and the Hudson River Park, and from the convention center to the Gansevoort Market Historic District. In Paris, during the 1990s, a similar elevated rail viaduct near the Bastille opera house was converted into a three mile pedestrian walkway called the Promenade Plant?e.
Bryan Fawks, Director for The Trust for Public Land in St. Louis, said, “This corridor is a crucial part of the development of St. Louis’ regional trails system. TPL is pleased to be part of this effort and we will continue to work with The Great Rivers Greenway District to pursue the formation of the River Ring.”
Although development plans for the newly acquired trestle have not begun, Great Rivers Greenway District is currently working on developing the McKinley Bridge Bikeway and Branch Street Trestle Connector. All three projects were originally part of the Illinois Traction System streetcar network, which connected several Metro East communities to downtown St. Louis via the McKinley Bridge. The streetcar line was abandoned in 1958.
Plans for the McKinley Bridge Bikeway and the Branch Street Trestle Connector include converting the elevated trestle into a bicycle/pedestrian route that will connect to existing and planned trails in Missouri and Illinois. Targeted for completion in 2007, both projects will be developed by GRGD and the Metro East Park and Recreation District. Pedestrians and cyclists will be able to cross the McKinley Bridge to access the regional system of greenways, parks and trails spanning both sides of the Mississippi River.
About The Great Rivers Greenway District:
The Great Rivers Greenway District is the public organization leading the development of a region-wide system of interconnected greenways, parks and trails, known as the River Ring. The River Ring will join two states and cover an area of 1,216 square miles. The Greenway District was established in November 2000 by the successful passage of the Clean Water, Safe Parks and Community Trails Initiative (Proposition C) in St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County, Missouri. For more information about Great Rivers Greenway District, visit www.greatrivers.info.
The Trust for Public Land is a national, nonprofit land-conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Established in 1972, TPL is the only national nonprofit working exclusively to protect land for public enjoyment and use. TPL depends on contributions from supporters to continue protecting land throughout the state. Visit TPL on the Web at www.tpl.org.