The Cortex Innovation Community is getting some major transportation upgrades.
Construction begins next month on a new MetroLink station near Duncan and Boyle Avenues, and a bike-pedestrian path between Boyle and Sarah Avenues. Great Rivers Greenway, a regional parks agency, is developing the long-awaited projects with partners including Cortex, BJC HealthCare, St. Louis Development Corp. and Washington University. The bulk of the funding comes from a $10.3 million federal grant, and plans call for both projects to be completed in spring 2018.
The path between Boyle and Sarah Avenues will be the first segment of the Chouteau Greenway, which will eventually span 5 miles and connect the neighborhood to other parts of the city, as Susan Trautman, chief executive officer at Great Rivers Greenway, explained recently at a groundbreaking ceremony.
“We are at the beginning of the vision for the Chouteau Greenway, which eventually will connect Forest Park, Washington University Medical Center, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Cortex Innovation Community, St. Louis University, Harris Stowe, the downtown business district and neighborhoods north and south. Today marks the first step in the project, and with our many partners, we will develop this greenway as a common ground to enrich lives, strengthen relationships, bridge communities and create places that attract and retain talent and improve quality of life.”
Great Rivers Greenway was formed in 2000 after the passage of Proposition C – a clean water, parks and community trails initiative. For years, the agency has been developing plans to connect neighborhoods in the area via greenways, and to put residents back in touch with the natural beauty of the region’s rivers and streams.
“Building a separated space for walking or riding a bike directly through the heart of St. Louis requires a lot of coordination and planning,” said Trautman. “We’ve been working in partnership with regional institutions, developers and public agencies for many years to make it a reality. It’s wonderful to see them embrace the greenway, recognize its value, and be eager to connect to it.”
The greenways connecting St. Louis neighborhoods will be more than just paved paths – plans call for amenities such as workout stations, picnic tables, bicycle storage, landscaping, restrooms and playgrounds for kids.
“We are excited to see Chouteau Greenway start come to life,” said Mark Vogl, project manager at Great Rivers Greenway. “The first segment is designed so that visitors, students, and employees can walk or ride bikes to connect with the Cortex Innovation Community as well as the rest of the destinations along the greenway’s path as it expands in the future.”
Both the greenway and the new MetroLink station are part of larger vision to encourage more non-car transportation around the Cortex campus, and the city in general.
On opening day, 600 to 700 new riders are expected to exit at the Cortex station. Currently, 14 percent of people who commute to the Cortex area use public transit. Project affiliates hope the new station can raise that number substantially over the long term.
The Cortex station is also expected to boost development in the area.
“It’s going to be huge for our area and the neighborhoods around it,” said Alderman Joseph Roddy, who has helped develop the plans, at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Both projects aim to create make St. Louis more accessible and environmentally friendly.
“Having transportation options is an international standard,” said Dennis Lower, President and CEO of the Cortex Innovation Community. “The greenway will not only help attract a vibrant workforce, it will also create a new recreational space that will improve livability in the heart of St. Louis.”
You can learn more about the master plans for the Chouteau Greenway here.