St. Louis Arch bike/ped connection proposal moves forward in MO General Assembly

A proposal to improve bicycle/pedestrian connections between downtown St. Louia and the Arch grounds--as well as fund other trails projects throughout the region--is moving forward in the Missouri General Assembly.

The proposal will allow three areas--St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County--to hold a vote of citizens to determine whether each area will join the funding plan.  The plan will be administered by Great Rivers Greenway District.

A proposal to create a similar trails and greenway district in the Kansas City region is also advancing and may be included in the same bill as the Arch plan.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the details:

A proposed regional sales tax increase to help fund improvements at the Gateway Arch grounds may be unprecedented, National Park Service officials say.

"We weren't able to find anything else in our files like this with a local tax proposal," said Jeffrey Olson, a spokesman for the park service. . . .

The goal of the Arch project is to improve pedestrian connections between downtown and the Arch grounds, revamp the park landscape to encourage more public use and to expand it to the East St. Louis riverfront. The Arch coalition could eventually seek similar tax increases in St. Clair and Madison counties but decided to start in Missouri.

The Arch area improvement plan also includes a pedestrian lid over Interstate 70 and new park walkways.

The sponsoring foundation, working with Civic Progress, has lined up $22 million in federal grants, $25 million in state money, $15 million from existing greenway district revenue sources and $33 million from private contributions toward its $553 million goal.

Although the Arch plan is getting the bulk of the publicity, in fact the bulk of the funds--70%--will go to the county where they originated, to improve trails and parks in that area.

The sales tax increased, if approved by voters, would be 3/16 of a cent.  Great Rivers Greenway District currently received a 1/10 cent sales tax levy.

The language is now part of several different bills (part of the strategy to give it several avenues to move forward), but you can see the proposed language in HB 1504, sponsored by Rep. Todd Richardson.

Photo credit: Photo by Len Cabrera on Trailnet's FlickR site. License: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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