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Thursday, June 05, 2008

McKinley Bridge Bikeway and Trestle grand opening

The Great Rivers Greenway District and the Metro East Park and Recreation District will jointly celebrate the grand opening of the McKinley Bridge Bikeway and Trestle at Branch Street on Saturday, June 7, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The McKinley Bridge Bikeway is a 2,600-ft. long by 14-ft. wide cantilevered lane separated from vehicular traffic lanes on the McKinley Bridge. Offering dramatic views of the Mississippi River and downtown St. Louis, the bikeway is a unique and distinctive feature of the reconstructed bridge that was reopened for vehicular traffic last November.

Also new on the Missouri side is the Trestle at Branch Street, a 2,400-ft. long by 24-ft. wide paved path that rises from street level at Branch Street to the height of the McKinley Bridge Bikeway. The trestle provides a direct connection to the popular 11-mile Riverfront Trail.

Eventually, an additional extension on the Missouri side will connect the Trestle at Branch Street, an adjacent historic elevated steel trestle that continues to downtown St. Louis. The trestle, which was a former rail corridor, will distinguish St. Louis as only the third city in the world, after the High Line in New York City and the Promenade Plantée in Paris, to convert an historic elevated railroad viaduct into a linear urban recreation area.

In a press release for the event, Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan highlighted another important aspect of the project. “Thanks to the vision and hard work of the Madison County Transit District (MCT), we have a world-class bikeway system featuring over 100 miles of interconnected trails in Madison County. The opening of this landmark project by MEPRD and Great Rivers Greenway brings us another step closer to providing Missouri residents with enhanced access to those trails.”

While there are existing on-road connections to both the Confluence Trail and Schoolhouse Trail, MEPRD and MCT are in the planning stages for a trail connection that will link the McKinley Bridge Bikeway directly into the one of those existing MCT trails.

No bicycle riding will be allowed on the McKinley Bridge during the event, but participants will be able to walk or take a shuttle bus to take advantage of bands, food and other activities in St. Louis and across the Mississippi River in Venice, Ill. There's an early bird ride from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. from North Riverfront Park in St. Louis down to the bridge. The bikeway will be officially dedicated at noon.

Columbia, Ill.-based Helmets First will giving away bicycle helmets to the first 100 children.

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