The scoping process is the most important step in any environmental study. Project scopes are often created with specific ideas in mind and shape the alternatives that are created and considered later on in the process. If an idea does not fit within the guidelines imposed by the project scope, it will not be considered.
And thus support for the City to River vision has come to its next big moment. The National Park Service has initiated an Environmental Assessment to push forward some of the components of MVVA’s plans for the Arch Grounds. The first step in this process is to define the project scope. The NPS service has defined the project’s scope as so:
The major components of the project currently under consideration include:
- a landscaped “lid” over the depressed lanes of I-70 between the Gateway Arch grounds and downtown;
- renovation of the underground museum and a new entrance;
- accessibility improvements and new exhibits in the Old Courthouse;
- development of accessible trails to the riverfront; and
- expanded visitor programming and amenities on the Gateway Arch grounds.
- improvements to the sustainability of the landscape at the park
As emphasized above, the project scope explicitly calls for a “lid” to be be built over I-70. Omitted from the project scope is any option or phrasing that supports consideration of a boulevard replacing I-70. In short, if the scope is left unchanged, City to River’s vision will not be among the alternatives considered in the next step of the EA process.
That the project scope for this Environmental Assessment supports a “lid” across I-70 should not be surprising. A few days ago, the Post-Dispatch reported that $2 million had been awarded by the USDOT engineering work on the giant I-70 overpass. Funding for the “lid” has obviously been in the works for some time.
So if you support City to River’s vision for the Arch grounds, send a comment to the National Park Service right now. Tell them that you believe that a “lid” across I-70 will not adequately connect the JNEM to the city. Tell them that you believe the project’s scope needs to be expanded to allow consideration of other alternatives. Tell them that you support City to River.
Comments must be submitted to the National Park Service by August 30 and can be submitted by clicking here.