by Don Corrigan
Saturday, Oct. 10, was a big day for Great Rivers Greenway. In Kirkwood, a “2020 Life Outside Challenge” was underway. About 10 miles east on the trail network, a grand opening for a bridge at Bayless Avenue was celebrated.
“We had 20 challenge activities at the Kirkwood Trailhead in the categories of nature creativity and healthy play,” said Anne Milford, communications coordinator for the GRG. “The parking lot was filled with cars the whole time and there was a lot of buzz about heading east to the new bridge.”
Indeed, a sizable number of hikers, bikers and in-line skaters made the trip from Kirkwood to a new connector bridge over the River Des Peres. The new bridge connects the Gravois Greenway and the River Des Peres Greenway.
The 600-foot bridge allows trail users to connect to more than 21 miles of ADA trail. The bridge is located just south of Interstate 55 crossing the river between River City Boulevard and Germania Street.
“It has taken a lot of planning, partnership and creativity to deliver the greenway connection people have been asking for,” said Susan Trautman, the Great Rivers Greenway’s Chief Executive Officer.
“It’s a short but powerful connection that links 21.5 miles of greenway across the city and county, inviting people to have great experiences commuting, exercising and getting some fresh air with their families and friends,” Trautman added.
On Saturday, trail users who crossed the bridge could collect souvenir water bottles, green cloth markers and bling from Emma Klues. She is the vice president of communications and outreach for Great Rivers Greenway.
Kluth was stationed at the bridge at a grand opening kiosk. Bikers and hikers from Kirkwood, Crestwood and Affton had a choice after passing the kiosk and then traveling across the bridge — take a left turn or a right turn.
Those who chose to go left headed northwest to Shrewsbury Lansdowne MetroLink Station. Those who chose to go right traveled past Lemay Park on the way to the River City Casino. Once at the casino, they could head south along the Mississippi River to Jefferson Barracks County Park.
As might be expected in a political season, trail travelers through Lemay Park encountered a campaign rally for Doug Beck, a Democrat running for the area’s 1st District Missouri Senate Seat.
“It’s great to see all these people up on a Saturday morning using the Great Rivers Greenway,” said Beck. “That new bridge is a great trail expansion that allows even more travel enjoyment for the St. Louis region.”
The new greenway expansion is a public-private collaboration funded with a combination of transportation grants, private philanthropic donations and local sales tax dollars.
In addition to Great Rivers Greenway, project partners include St. Louis County Parks, City of St. Louis Parks Department and Board of Public Service, Missouri Department of Transportation, Ameren Missouri, Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, and Republic Services.