Home » Downtown »Featured »NorthSide Project »Planning & Design »Public Transit » Currently Reading:

Transit-Oriented Planning Eliminates 22nd Street Interchange, Reconnects Street Grid

For years I’ve been accused of being a naive dreamer, coming up with big plans without the existing market to implement. I’ve just smiled and continued sharing my long-term vision for St. Louis.

In June 2007 I wrote:

The 22nd Street Interchange, part of an abandoned highway concept from a few decades ago, needs to be ripped out with the land returned to active tax-paying use. The Missouri Dept of Transportation (MoDOT) should rework the interchange at Jefferson Ave to allow for on/off ramps in both directions and therefore eliminating the need for the current ramps at 22nd. MoDot could sell the land to fund the revisions to the highway ramps. (St. Louis Should Abandon Linear Gateway Mall Concept)

Then in December 2008 I wrote:

I picture a new bridge at I-64/40 and Jefferson Ave — one with a single point urban interchange (SPUI) and both East & West on/off ramps. Build that and then remove the 22nd interchange completely. Bring in form-based zoning codes to require a denser urban environment. Make a strong connection through the back of Union Station (between the shed & highway) so that pedestrians from this newly developable land have the opportunity to walk to Metrolink and the 14th street transit station beyond that. The fact that much of this area is already excavated and free of utility lines would simplify the construction of underground parking in new buildings. (MoDOT Needs To Put The 22nd Street Interchange On Any Wish List For Funding)

By May 2009 I noted that St. Louis’ 22nd Street Interchange Part of McKee’s Plan so it elimination would need to be worked out with him. Presumably MoDOT agrees with McKee because they’re replacing the Jefferson bridge over I-64/40 with no plans for on/off ramps to/from the east.

Then, last month, at an St. Louis Regional Transit Oriented Development Study presentation around the Union Station & Civic Center Metrolink stations the Denver-based consulting firm suggested largely what I had outlined years earlier.

Preliminary plan around Union Station, the Drury (former YMCA) and other existing buildings should be shown in the final presentation.
Preliminary plan around Union Station, the Drury (former YMCA) and other existing buildings should be shown in the final presentation.

Ok, they still have on/off ramps for I-64/40 to the east, but they are compact and feed into the reconnected street grid I had advocated. The above image is preliminary, I pointed out it was missing buildings like the Drury Inn on 20th, formerly a YMCA and later a gay bar/hotel/bathhouse. Hopefully their final will be more accurate than the draft shown at the last meeting.

Still they see what I and others saw, the need to repair the street grid and fill in the gaps in the urban fabric.

Only part of a planned highway loop around downtown was built, a huge waste of land to the west of Union Station.
The 22nd Street interchange is just on/off ramps.
1958 aerial of the area west & north of Union Station

This is not about trying to recreate the buildings and feel of the area prior to the demolition for the highway interchange. This is a forward-looking vision to create a walkable/urban environment for those interested in such. Some prefer the look & feel of new buildings, new sidewalks, new trees, etc. This is an opportunity to create an entirely new neighborhood largely from scratch yet have access to existing transit.

Per McKee’s plans, a few new employers could anchor the neighborhood. Workers & residents would attract restaurants, dry cleaners, and other services.

None of this is rocket science, it’s Urban Planning 101. St. Louis still needs lots of basics to rebuild the connections that were ripped out in the 20th Century.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "11 comments" on this Article:

  1. RyleyinSTL says:

    I’d love to see the 22nd Street interchange compacted/removed, like above, along with whatever redevelopment happens at Union Station.

  2. Scott Jones says:

    My preference would be for them to remove either 40 or 44 entirely but hey, I guess I’m a naive dreamer too. This is great news that they’re removing the huge ramps.

  3. MattH says:

    Is the current work going on at this location part of re-introducing a grid? There is a lot of site work and earth moving ongoing for the past few weeks.

    • I think that dirt is coming from the bridge work at I-64 just east of Kingshighway.

      • chaifetz10 says:

        This was covered in one of the PD’s Road Crew chats. It is the staging area for materials and equipment for that other work. Some dirt will be left, but it has nothing to do with the 22nd interchange

  4. tpekren says:

    Steve, Your thoughts on a couple of things. McKee’s vision is return of street gird but emphasis is on a major blvd defining 22nd street. Could you update your post with any of McKee’s renderings for comparison. Also, the rumor mill again is flying on IKEA. We understand your thoughts on the IKEA speculation but McKee is a developer with a green light on TIF and tax credit to boot. No doubt he is actively pursuing them to eithr anchor 22nd street or the Bottleworks site.


    The reality is McKee is going to get first stab at developing this area and his direction is going to dictate until he calls it quits on the Northside Plan or statehouse finally cuts off the tax credit tap and he runs dry on the only significant Northside revenue source to date. So could you incorporate your thoughts into the current Political/TIF or whatever reality you want to call it. I like the dreaming part but change could easily be coming to this area within the next year or two.

    • GMichaud says:

      I hope you don’t mind if I chime in with a few comments.

      A major flaw is that you are talking about McKee’s vision instead of the vision of the people of St. Louis.

      About Ikea, the fact that St. Louis has to beg them to come highlights how city planning and its neglect has made St. Louis an undesirable city. The city is a hollowed out third of its original size. As far as I can see the same policies continue with McKee and his “vision”.

      • tpekren says:

        Don’t mind at all, that was the point. McKee’s vision is actually in the drivers seat at the moment when you look at what might happen in the near future. TIF, Statehouse extending the land assembly “McKee” tax credit and at least one corporate location/Ikea would together make a change happen rather quickly to this part of downtown.
        I guess my thought is what differences are between Steve’s vision and the good, the bad and the ugly of McKee’s vision. Could you incorporate an Ikea into what Steve highlighted in the post

        As far as the vision of the people of St. Louis, come on. To say that they are all on the same page as Steve is really a stretch and denies the reality that a lot of people in the same room/city will desire a lot of different things.

        • GMichaud says:

          When I said the vision of the people of St. Louis meant a transparent public process where outcomes are debated and considered, There is only a behind the scenes determination of outcomes right now. As far as Steve goes, it is not about applying only his ideas any more than only McKees.

          • dempster holland says:

            Anyone who has a vision can go into many parts of north st louis and build whatever
            they want. Of course, it takes money to do it–your own money or money you can
            borrow or wheedle out of government. But people have to actually do it–not just
            criticize someone else who is trying to do it.


Comment on this Article: