Great Rivers Greenway Foundation Update

Since its inception as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit in 2016 the Great Rivers Greenway Foundation has received $12.7 million from individuals, other foundations and businesses to fund greenway projects, conservation efforts and improvements along the greenways.

Connecting the Centennial Greenway

Olivette Update

Since 2018, we’ve been working with the City of Olivette to extend the Centennial Greenway from its current endpoint at the Olive Blvd. and I-170 intersection through Olivette so people can connect on foot, bicycle, stroller and wheelchair to Warson Park, the new Olivette Community Center, Indian Meadows Park and the Olive Blvd. stores and restaurants.

Over the past year, we’ve asked for additional feedback from community members to help guide the final designs and ensure a great greenway experience.

This extension will be brought to life in multiple phases. Greenway design from Warson Park to Dielman Road and along Olive Blvd. near I-170 is expected to be complete this summer. In the fall, we’ll break ground in Warson Park, in coordination with the construction of the new Olivette Community Center. In 2022, construction will continue from Warson Park to Dielman Road and along Olive Blvd. near I-170, in coordination with the Olive Crossing Development. The timeline for the design and construction of the final stretch of greenway from Dielman Road to Olive Blvd. is dependent on the acquisition of the Union Pacific Railroad property. We’ll keep you posted on how this process will impact the project schedule.

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St. Charles Update

Community members and our partners at the cities of St. Charles and St. Peters have helped plan the next segment of the Centennial Greenway in St. Charles County. The goal is to extend the greenway (which connects the Katy Trail to the Heritage Museum plus a 0.7-mile walking/biking connection over highways 364 and 94) from its current endpoint at Old Highway 94 to Schaefer Park.

This also sets the stage for future connections that will make it possible to walk or ride a bike on dedicated walking and biking paths all the way from the St. Peters Rec-Plex to the Katy Trail as well as schools, parks and neighborhoods along the way.

Design is almost finished; the project is expected to be bid for construction in 2021-2022. We’ll also add wayfinding signs along the planned Centennial Greenway project being constructed by the City of St. Peters, which extends from Hackmann Road to Spencer Creek Trail, adjacent to Harvester Church of the Nazarene.

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University City Update

The Ackert Walkway — part of the Centennial Greenway linking Forest Park, Washington University and the Delmar Loop — extends north from Delmar Blvd. to Vernon Avenue. With the goal of improving the experience for greenway visitors, we worked with operations and maintenance partners on a betterment project in University City, the City of St. Louis and on the Washington University campus. The improvements included new wayfinding signage across the entire length of the greenway, replacement of aging concrete, new lighting, benches and trash cans. This work was wrapped up in early 2020. Future plans call for an extension of this greenway from Vernon Avenue to Heman Park.

We can’t wait to connect this entire greenway across all three counties for you to explore and enjoy!

Storybook Walks on Greenways

Storybook Walks are a fun way to read a book while enjoying a walk along a greenway. (Not to mention instilling a love for books as little readers burn up some energy!) Books are displayed page -by-page on progressive signs along the paved path. There are Storybook Walks on greenways in St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County. Plan a visit to one or all of them this summer!

Greenway Alerts: June 2021

There are some planned  maintenance projects underway (or about to get started) that will be impacting greenways around the region.  Heads up on the following greenway alerts so you can plan your walks and rides accordingly.

 

New Storybook Walk on St. Vincent Greenway in Partnership with St. Louis Public Library

We have teamed up with the St. Louis Public Library on a new Storybook Walk at Ruth Porter Mall Park on the St. Vincent Greenway. The goal is to provide a fun outdoor learning activity, while promoting physical activity on the greenway.  The first book is Cannon’s Crash Course, a story about a boy who is eager to ride a bike, but does not know how.  Take in this great children’s story written by Mon Trice and beautifully illustrated by Cbabi Bayoc as you enjoy a socially distanced walk.   (Fun Fact: Both the author and illustrator live in St. Louis!)

 

Each month will feature a new story:

  • April/May: Cannon’s Crash Course by Mon Trice and illustrated by Cbabi Bayoc
  • June: Hair Love by Matthew Cherry
  • July: Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
  • August: When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L.B. Deenihan
  • September: I Got the School Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison
  • October: Scaredy Kate by Jacob Grant
  • November: Grandma’s Tiny House by JaNay Brown-Wood
  • December: Snow Globe Wishes by Erin Dealey

The books  will be displayed page-by-page on progressive free-standing posts along the greenway. The posts were designed and built by Perennial, a local nonprofit, using 342 pounds of reclaimed material. Ruth Porter Mall Park  is located near the intersection of Delmar and Debaliviere on the St. Vincent Greenway. Plan your visit here.

New Visitor Services and Maintenance Building Under Construction on Kiener Plaza

A new structure is under construction on the north side of Kiener Plaza, completing the park’s renovation as part of the CityArchRiver transformation. The project is a joint effort of Great Rivers Greenway, City of St. Louis and Gateway Arch Park Foundation. It will serve as a visitor services and maintenance building and include retail space for St. Louis-themed gifts, a workspace for on-site security, and a storage and support space for events and maintenance.

Construction on the site began on April 26th and is estimated to be completed in the Fall of 2021.

Downtown commuters can expect periodic closures of five parking spaces and part of the bike lane on Chestnut St. between 6th and 7th streets.

The visitor services and maintenance building will be an upgrade from the current security station in place on Kiener Plaza and will provide a workstation for security guards to be present and visible.

The building will also store items such as the café tables and chairs that Kiener Plaza visitors use to relax and enjoy the space, tools to take care of the plants and infrastructure in the park, and equipment for programs and events that activate the plaza, such as the Gateway Arch Park Foundation Sunrise Yoga series.

Kiener Plaza’s central location in Downtown St. Louis makes it an ideal spot for the new hospitality station for residents and visitors alike to get directions, make a plan for their day and pick up a gift. This service will be a partnership with Explore St. Louis and Jefferson National Parks Association, who already provide visitor services and retail services, respectively.

 

Greenway Project Update

There are several greenway projects moving forward across the region. Here is the latest update:

St. Vincent Greenway

We are working with many partners to close the gap on the northern and southern sections of the St. Vincent Greenway. We’ll complete the connection in three phases. Phase 1 is underway and phase 2 will break ground in early summer!

St. Vincent County Park to Rock Road Transit Center (Phase 1): Construction on this .83 mile section of greenway is underway! It will run parallel to St. Charles Rock Road with a direct connection to the Rock Road Transit Center and St. Vincent County Park. It is being built as part of Missouri Department of Transportation’s improvements to St. Charles Rock Road in partnership with St. Louis County Parks and Bi-State Metro. Watch a “tour” of the project below!

 

Trojan Park to former Eskridge High School Site (Phase 2): This will extend the greenway an additional .53 miles from its current endpoint at Trojan Park on Etzel Avenue to the site of the former Eskridge High school in Wellston. Plans are complete and we’ll break ground on the .53 mile expansion from Trojan Park in early summer 2021 once final permits are completed.

Eskridge High School Site to St. Charles Rock Road through Pagedale (Phase 3): Thanks to the input and feedback from the Pagedale community, in early 2020 we identified the route for the greenway from the former Eskridge High School to St. Charles Rock Road. We are working through the design phase to develop technical construction documents to prepare the project for future construction in 2022 We applied for federal funding (Surface Transportation Program) for this project to leverage sales tax investment in this new greenway. If awarded, it would impact the proposed timeline of the project. Stay tuned for updates!

Mississippi Greenway: Kiener Plaza Visitor Services & Maintenance Building

Work on the new Visitor Services & Maintenance Building on Kiener Plaza is ready to begin. The building will include a workspace for on-site security and provide storage and support space for events and maintenance. We are also partnering with Explore St. Louis and the Jefferson National Parks Association to provide visitor information as well as some St. Louis gifts and goodies for purchase. Work on the new building is expected to be complete by fall 2021.

 

Centennial Greenway: Christy Drive to Hackmann Drive (St. Charles County)

This project will extend the Centennial Greenway: Katy Trail to Heritage Museum in St. Charles County to Schaefer Park. It will also set the stage for future greenway connections that will make it possible to walk or ride a bike on dedicated walking and biking paths all the way from the St. Peters Rec-Plex to the Katy Trail. In 2019, community members weighed in on proposed routes and amenities for the greenway. We will also be adding wayfinding signs along the planned Centennial Greenway project that is being constructed by the City of St. Peters which extends from Hackmann Road to Spencer Creek Trail adjacent to Harvester Church of the Nazarene. Design is in progress and expected to be bid for construction in 2021-2022.

Mississippi Greenway: Old Chain of Rocks Bridge

Since 2019, we have been working with partners, neighbors and community members to plan and design a new vision for the area surrounding the Missouri entrance to the historic Old Chain of Rocks Route 66 Bridge. The design team considered this community feedback to develop the just-completed intermediate plans, specifications and cost estimates. Plans for the 16-acre site include new security features, parking, picnic and gathering areas and landscape improvements. Fundraising is ongoing and we will launch construction when funding is complete. In the meantime, we are investigating actions we can take now to get a head start on the restoration of the site’s meadow. We have also applied for federal funding through the Land & Water Conservation Fund—no word on that just yet. Stay tuned for more updates.

Deer Creek Greenway: Deer Creek Connector

We are working with the City of Brentwood to plan, design and construct a connection between the Deer Creek Greenway at Marshall Road and Brentwood’s Norm West Park and Rogers Parkway. This project is a part of the city’s $80 million Brentwood Bound storm water mitigation plan for the Deer Creek flood plain and will incorporate numerous water quality, stream bank, restoration and open space features, as well as an underpass below Manchester Road for a seamless connection for people walking and biking. Construction of the stormwater mitigation project is well underway, including earthwork necessary to build Norm West Park improvements and the Deer Creek Greenway extension. Greenway construction is expected to begin summer 2021, with completion in 2022.

Dardenne Greenway: Cottleville

Construction on a .3 mile extension of Dardenne Greenway, from the intersection of Weiss Road and former Route N to the Warren Cottle Trail in Cottleville began in late 2020. Demolition, earthwork and utility relocation is currently in progress and the project is expected to be complete later this year, providing additional connections via the Warren Cottle Trail to Vantage Lake, Legacy Park and the 1.1 mile greenway along Route N west of Weiss Road.

Spring Ephemerals and Wildflowers: Now Showing on a Greenway Near You!

If you want to enjoy spring’s loveliest—and most fleeting—display of colorful wildflowers, it’s time to plan a trip to a greenway near you! April and May are peak showtime for a variety of colorful perennials emerging from their winter slumber.

Thanks to the longer days and warming temperatures, little splashes of color will soon appear on the forest floor and along the banks of creeks and streams. Known as “spring ephemerals,” these wildflowers bloom early, linger briefly, and disappear before the trees are leafed out. This dazzling show of spring color is only a limited engagement, so take time to see the flowers before they are gone. No ticket is required to visit a greenway, and you’re guaranteed a front row seat whether you are on foot or bike!

Here are a few of the native wildflowers you can see along the greenways this spring:

Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

One of the most stunning early spring wildflowers! Buds are pink, turning to light blue blooms. Plants grow up to two feet tall and are often found in large groups.

Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)

Pink, sometimes white spring wildflower that resembles a series of miniature white knee breeches hanging on a clothes line. (Note: these can be irritating to your skin. Do not touch!)

Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)

These are the most widely distributed early spring flower in Missouri. White or pink with distinct pink veining on the petals.

Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia verna)

The flowers of blue-eyed Mary are 2-lipped: the upper lip is 2-lobed and white; the lower lip is 3-lobed and sky blue (rarely purple or white). This is one of the few Missouri wildflowers that is truly “blue.”

Wake Robin or Trillium (Trillium sessile)

The flower of wake robin, or trillium, has 3 petals and 3 sepals, and 3 leaves that subtend the solitary flower. The petal color varies in this common woodland spring wildflower, but it is most commonly brownish or maroon.

Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium reptans)

As pretty as this wildflower is, the common name “Jacob’s Ladder” comes from its leaves, which made people think of the story from Genesis in which Jacob dreams of a ladder reaching up to heaven.


Best Greenways for Viewing Wildflowers

Some of the greenways provide better habitat than others for spring ephemerals and wildflowers. Those that meander through forests, across bottom land, or other conservation areas are your best bet for a colorful show. Take your pick of the following (or plan to visit them all this spring!):

Busch Greenway: Katy Trail to Missouri Research Park to August A. Busch Conservation Area
Where to look: There are two prime viewing spots along this greenway; the forest bottom between Missouri Research Park and the Katy Trail as well as the portion of the greenway that meanders through the Weldon Spring Conservation Area.

Deer Creek Greenway: Deer Creek Park
Where to look: We have been working with a variety of partners to clear out invasive honeysuckle along Deer Creek. Look for wildflowers along the banks and edge of Deer Creek. You can also see some Missouri native plants in Lorraine Davis Park.

Meramec Greenway: Glencoe to Sherman Beach Park
Where to look: The bottomland forest along Rock Hollow Trail is known for its showy display of bluebells. You can find all of the wildflowers listed above along this greenway.

Dardenne Greenway: Barathaven
Where to look: Bluebird Meadow, the former sod-farm turned native prairie. You can learn more about the “prairie in progress here.

Other places to enjoy native plants and wildflowers early this summer:

  • Trojan Park on the St. Vincent Greenway in Wellston has a beautiful garden filled with native plants!
  • River des Peres Greenway: Raingarden between Route 66 and Lansdowne
  • Busch Greenway near roundabout connection to Hamburg Trail.

 

 


Please Don’t Pick the Wildflowers!

Because these flowers are so beautiful, it can be tempting to want to pick them or dig them up for transplanting. Not only is this unsightly, it also removes an important food source for pollinators and other animals. Because the plant’s life cycle is so short, animals that might eat the foliage have only a brief opportunity to consume them.  Enjoy the flowers, snap a picture, and leave them where they are! If you would like to add beautiful native flowers to your garden, you can find ethical plant nurseries and other resources here.

Wildflower photos and plant information are all courtesy of the  Missouri Department of Conservation. To learn more about what plants and animals to look for during every season, visit their website here.