Community & Partners celebrate new Meramec Greenway walking and biking connection on I-44 bridge

Great Rivers Greenway, the Missouri Department of Transportation, the cities of Sunset Hills, Kirkwood and Fenton along with community members and other civic partners collaborated to create an accessible walking and biking path on the new Interstate 44 bridge at the Meramec River – connecting paths, parks and greenways from three municipalities. A community event to celebrate this accomplishment was held Saturday, June 24 in Emmenegger Nature Park.

“This major partnership leveraged a significant opportunity to deliver exactly what the community asked for – safe access across the Meramec River to reach key destinations like Emmenegger Nature Park, Unger Park, Fenton City Park and beyond,” said Susan Trautman, CEO of Great Rivers Greenway. “This new connection invites people to explore while enjoying the majestic view, a dynamic experience made possible by a unique collaboration.”

The new paved and ADA-accessible path, separated from and north of the I-44 westbound lanes, connects three municipalities and four parks. With the previous I-44 bridge slated for replacement, partners took advantage of the once-in-a-generation opportunity to add a walking and biking connection across the Meramec River on the new bridge.

“This is an exciting day for MoDOT and all our partners,” said Tom Blair, St. Louis District Engineer at the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). “As a cyclist who lives in Fenton, I know how much interest there has been over the years in having a safe, shared-use path across the Meramec River. We appreciate the efforts of Great Rivers Greenway, Fenton, Kirkwood and Sunset Hills to partner with us and help make this much-needed community improvement a reality. I’m excited to see additional investments to make this river crossing even more connected to our communities.”

This expansion was a collaborative effort between six civic partners. Funding for the walking and bike path on the bridge was provided by Great Rivers Greenway’s designated local sales tax dollars, while MoDOT contributed funding for design and construction of the bridge substructure. The municipalities of Sunset Hills, Kirkwood and Fenton collectively applied for a grant from the Municipal Parks Grant Commission of St. Louis County for the connections from the bridge on both sides of the river.

On the east side of the river, the bridge touches down at a new trailhead at Stoneywood Drive. It sits adjacent to Emmenegger Nature Park, located on the border between Kirkwood and Sunset Hills. The trailhead features a covered picnic shelter, parking lot, bike racks, bike fix-it station, native plants and a rain garden.

“Sunset Hills was thrilled to lead the design of these new trailheads and bridge approach alongside our neighbors at Kirkwood and Fenton,” said Gerald Brown, director of parks and recreation for the City of Sunset Hills. “Guided by community input and funded by the St. Louis County Municipal Park Grant Commission, we are proud to provide people what they need to explore and enjoy the parks and destinations on either side of our beloved Meramec River.”

In addition to the east touchdown site, the west side of the bridge now connects to the Meramec Greenway at the intersection of Rudder and Yarnell roads. The intersection at Yarnell Road also features a pedestrian crosswalk signal to make it easy for people to cross the road to connect to the greenway.

To kick off the morning of the community celebration, guests were led on a guided walk from Fenton City Park to Emmenegger Nature Park. Upon arrival guests enjoyed a performance by the Lindbergh High School Marching Pep Band followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony and presentation from the partnering civic organizations. The event also featured live music by John Jarrett Music, free snacks from both Kona Ice and TreauX’s Cajun BBQ, and family nature activities.