Save the Meramec River Route 66 Bridge

In a Nutshell

The Route 66 Meramec River/Times Beach Bridge is located in St. Louis County (MO) near Eureka in Route 66 State Park. The bridge was constructed in the early 1930s to support the highway we know today as “Route 66.” Today, the bridge is a centerpiece for Route 66 State Park. It attracts international interest from those who travel Route 66 and is a viable component of future recreational plans for a bike/pedestrian crossing. In January 2016, Missouri State Parks agreed to become the bridge’s new owner; however, the agency requires an endowment of $1 million. Our project is to raise a $575,000 to support the endowment request. We must meet this goal no later than December 31, 2016. If we fail to do so, MoDOT will demolish the bridge in early 2017. Click  here to donate.


Project Information

BackgroundBackground

The Route 66 Meramec River / Times Beach Bridge is located in St. Louis County (MO) near Eureka in Route 66 State Park. The bridge was constructed in the early 1930s to support the highway we know today as “Route 66.” Missouri is one of eight states that carried the “Mother Road,” established as a federal highway in 1926. The bridge at Times Beach provided a modern highway crossing for the Meramec River when the preferred Route 66 alignment through St. Louis was shifted to Chippewa Avenue/Watson Road in the early 1930s. By the mid-1960s, this stretch of Route 66 had been replaced by Interstate-44. Route 66 was officially decommissioned in 1985, at which time the bridge was removed from the state highway system. Weight restrictions for the bridge began in 2005 and the structure closed to automobile traffic in 2009. One year prior, in 2008, the bridge had been listed to the National Register of Historic Places. Its significance relates not only to the bridge’s physical association with Route 66 but its structural design – it is one of only three extant Warren truss deck bridges in Missouri. The bridge is a centerpiece for Route 66 State Park. It attracts international interest from those who travel Route 66 and is a viable component of future recreational plans for a bike/pedestrian crossing.

  • The implemented project is fundraising to support an endowment for Missouri State Parks to take over ownership of the Route 66 Meramec River Bridge. The bridge is located within the boundaries of Route 66 State Park and presently owned by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). MoDOT wishes to release its ownership obligation because the bridge is no longer part of the state highway system. Our project is to raise $575,000 by the end of 2016 to secure the bridge’s future ownership/restoration. If our project is not completed by the deadline, the bridge will be demolished in early 2017.
  • The organization responsible for the proposal submission is Landmarks Association of St. Louis, Inc. (Landmarks), incorporated as a non-profit in 1959. Landmarks’ mission is “to promote, preserve and enhance St. Louis’ architectural heritage and encourage sound planning and good contemporary design.” The association is the fiscal agent for the bridge’s fundraising campaign. Other stakeholders include Route 66 Association of Missouri, Missouri State Parks, Great Rivers Greenway, Missouri Preservation, St. Louis County Parks & Recreation, City of Wildwood (MO), City of Eureka (MO), City of Pacific (MO), Wednesday Club (Eureka), Open Space Council, Historic Bridge Foundation and the National Park Service (Route 66 Corridor Program).
  • The community that would be supported by the project reaches far beyond the geographical boundaries of Route 66 State Park. Regionally, the bridge is a vital link in connecting parks and trails along the Meramec River Greenway, with direct access to the river. In relation to the state’s tourism capacity, Route 66 State Park attracts thousands of visitors each year. Many visitors are international tourists. Route 66 State Park is one of the most visited stops along the entire stretch of Route 66 (eight states) and the bridge is a major attraction.

ProposalProposal

This project is seeking to facilitate a transfer of the bridge’s ownership from the Missouri Department of Transportation to Missouri State Parks, as well as to secure and organize the resources necessary for restoration of the bridge so that it may be used as a bicycle and pedestrian connection by visitors to Route 66 State Park.

Phase 1:  In order to allow for a transfer of ownership from MoDOT to Missouri State Parks, funds must be raised to provide Route 66 State Park with an endowment sufficient to maintain the bridge as an historic resource.



 

 

 

Phase 2:  Once ownership has been transferred, funds and other resources must be secured for full restoration of the bridge’s Warren truss and for the construction of a new deck to allow for crossing by bicycle and pedestrian traffic, as well as park vehicles for maintenance purposes.
 

 

 

The coalition working to save the bridge, led by Landmarks Association of St. Louis, has established a GoFundMe campaign for public donations, but assistance from regional or national philanthropies will be necessary to raise the money required to save this important economic and cultural resource.

NumbersNumbers

The Total cost of this project is estimated as $10,626,400. This cost will be raised in two phases.
Phase 1:  In order to save the bridge from demolition, $1 million must be raised to meet Missouri State Parks’ self-imposed requirement that they have an endowment for long-term care of the bridge as an historic resource.  

MoDOT has committed $325,000 for the project, money that would otherwise go toward demolition costs. Meanwhile, Missouri State Parks has pledged $100,000 toward the effort. This leaves $575,000 that must be raised by the end of 2016 in order to save the bridge.
Phase 2:  In order to preserve the bridge for the long-term, substantial restoration and reconstruction are required. The cost of this is estimated as $9,626,400. This cost includes coating system for the main span truss system, substructure repairs, superstructure/steel repairs, new bridge construction, and construction mobilization. Great Rivers Greenway has the potential to seek their board’s approval for up to $3 million towards the redevelopment of the bridge over the next few years, if other resources also come forward. This leaves $6,626,400 that will need to be raised in order to restore and reopen the bridge.

This project is seeking grants and donations to achieve this goal.

OutcomesOutcomes

Three major outcomes are anticipated from this project, each one having a significant impact on the community and future generations.

  1. Preservation of irreplaceable historic resources: Through this work a unique and irreplaceable part of cultural heritage will be preserved. Route 66 is one of the most celebrated roads in the world. The “Mother Road,” as it is called, was one of the first of America’s new highways that proliferated in the mid-1920s. It was purportedly the shortest direct route from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Coast. Although officially decommissioned in 1985, Route 66 continues to draw huge numbers of tourists both nationally and internationally for its unique sense of history and place.
  2. Maintenance and Restoration of site as a cultural tourist destination: In spite of its loss of official designation, a conservative estimate of money spent by all Route 66 tourists is about $38 million annually. In addition to the $38 million in tourism spending, it is estimated that there is an additional $67 million in Main Street spending and $27 million in museum spending, making the total annual investment in Route 66 $132 million. Missouri’s Route 66 State Park has been one of the most visited sites along the route, with an attendance last year of 216,432 people, coming from 48 of the 50 states and over 16 countries worldwide. These tourists likely represent millions in spending that would be substantially diminished if the bridge is demolished.
  3. A vital connection for recreation: The reopening of the bridge would restore access to the resources in Route 66 State Park to thousands of visitors each year. Additionally, this bridge is perfectly positioned to link the greenway system developing on either side of the Meramec River. As Kat Dockery, Executive Director of Open Space Council for the Saint Louis Region explains, "This bridge is a vital connection for recreational users of one of our region’s most amazing open spaces. By saving the bridge, the public will once again have access to a 419-acre paradise for biking, hiking, bird watching, and much more."

These outcomes will have an unmistakably positive impact on the region, and will directly address OneSTL indicators on employment, income, GMP, bikeability, and cultural/arts institutions.

ContactsContacts

The primary contact for the project is Ruth Keenoy, c/o Landmarks Association of St. Louis, Inc., 911 Washington Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63101; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 314-421-6474/314-637-6441.
Additional contacts are as follows:
Daniel Gonzales, St. Louis County Parks, 314-615-7869, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Bill Hart, Missouri Preservation, 314-691-1941, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More InformationMore Information

We invite our project reviewers to check out these resources, which support our project proposal and relate the significance of the bridge, both as a cultural resource and a vital connection to the regional trails/park system.
GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/meramec-66-bridge
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Save-the-Meramec-River-Route-66-Bridge-Missouri-1119664351400410/
National Register Nomination/Bridge: http://dnr.mo.gov/shpo/nps-nr/09000888.pdf
Great Rivers Greenway/ Bridge Feasibility Study and HSR: http://greatriversgreenway.org/meramec-greenway-master-plan/
Bridge History Powerpoint/MoDOT: http://www.modot.org/stlouis/major_projects/documents/jl_public_meeting.pdf
National Park Service/Route 66: https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/route66/meramec_river_us_bridge_66.html