Great Rivers Greenway strikes deal to improve Chain of Rocks Bridge, Riverfront Trail

Today the Great Rivers Greenway District announced an agreement with the developer of a riverfront casino to improve and provide security for trailheads at the Chain of Rocks Bridge, provide maintenance for the adjoining Riverfront Trail and the Chain of Rocks Bridge, and take several other steps that will benefit the trail, bridge, and riverfront area.

Automobile break-ins and theft have been an ongoing problem at the Chain of Rocks trailhead, so providing security for the parking areas is a very important step for increasing usage of the landmark trail connection between Missouri and Illinois.

LANDMARK BRIDGE, TRAIL WILL WIN ... OR WIN

August 30, 2010, St. Louis. The historic Chain of Rocks Bridge, refurbished after nearly being demolished in the 1980s, and the acclaimed North Riverfront Trail that now connects the bridge to the Gateway Arch will both gain important new protections under a preliminary Trail Development and Exchange Agreement authorized on August 27, 2010 by the Board of Directors of Great Rivers Greenway (GRG).

The Board voted to support an agreement with the City of St. Louis’s preferred developer of a casino on Riverview Drive near the bridge.  A portion of the property required for the construction of the City-supported project at the Chain of Rocks is currently owned by GRG.

GRG will exchange a small parcel near Chain of Rocks Bridge and Riverview Drive, for property owned by the developer adjacent to the Mississippi River.   The preferred developer will, following licensure by the State of Missouri and final commitment for project financing, agree to:

  • Improve and maintain trailheads on both ends of the bridge, lighted public parking with 24-hour security, public restrooms, and landscaping

  • Preserve the riverfront and minimize floodplain and other environmental impacts

  • Upgrade and provide annual maintenance to the Great Rivers Greenway North Riverfront trail on the project site and the Chain of Rocks Bridge.

  • Showcase and make infrastructure improvements to the bridge

  • Actively promote public usage of the site, including the coordination of public events, such as the popular “Eagle Days”

  • Use sustainable building practices in the construction of all phases of the project

If the company fails to win regulatory approval, or secure project financing it will sell 11.826 acres of property it currently controls adjacent to the Chain of Rocks Bridge to GRG  for fair market value.

For several years GRG has endeavored to acquire property at this site to develop an appropriate and badly needed trailhead facility.  GRG Board President Neal Perryman described the agreement as an opportunity to secure one of two long-term goals. 

“We want to preserve, secure and provide public access to the trail system and to the wonderful Chain of Rocks Bridge, which is a prohibitively expensive commitment while we have so many other projects in the region to undertake. And we would like to enhance more of the property that abuts the bridge on the Missouri side of the river, which we cannot afford to do.  Under this agreement, we are going to do one of those things that we have always wanted to do.  Without it, we could do neither,” Perryman said.

The State of Missouri is expected to make a licensing decision by the end of the year.

About GRG-Great Rivers Greenway

Great Rivers Greenway-GRG is the public organization leading the development of a region-wide system of high quality greenways, parks and trails known as the River Ring. Designed to link communities and stimulate environmental, social and economic benefits, The River Ring when completed will cover an area of 1,216 square miles across St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County, Missouri. By connecting residents and visitors to parks, businesses and college campuses, as well as historical, cultural and natural landmarks, GRG is improving the region and uniting communities. For more information about GRG, visit www.grgstl.org

Photo courtesy Chris Yunker, FlickR, Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike license.