Some questions and answers!


What’s this all about?

Originally called the Chouteau Greenway, it was recently renamed through a public process to the Brickline Greenway. This is a major public-private partnership to bring a long-time vision to life. The mission/vision statement explains, “This greenway will transform St. Louis by connecting people and our City’s most treasured places, creating inspiring experiences and equitable opportunities for growth.” More than just a free, accessible trail where people can exercise, commute or explore, the project’s goals include thinking about equitable economic opportunities for everyone to thrive. The greenway aims to create dynamic, active spaces and serve as a regional gathering place that encourages collaboration and boosts civic pride.

Why was the Greenway renamed?

The Chouteau Greenway project first started in the 1990s with a dream to connect Forest Park to the Gateway Arch. However, what we are planning today is so much more than that. You’ve told us that it’s important to build connections to neighborhoods north and south. The greenway will stretch north, south, east, and west to break through real and perceived barriers in the city. You’ve told us that the name “Chouteau Greenway” is hard to say and spell, and that it isn’t meaningful to everyone. The greenway needed a new name that reflects what we’ve heard from the community about the changes needed and opportunities that abound for St. Louisans.

How was the new name chosen?

A public call for name ideas December 11-January 31 included an online toolkit to get creativity flowing. Great Rivers Greenway staff also conducted workshops and pop ups around the city. People went online or texted in to submit nearly 1,000 name ideas! The criteria for an ideal name included:

  • Specific and unique to St. Louis
  • Fits with a vision for a vibrant, diverse and inclusive future for the region
  • Broad enough to encompass the scope of the project, not just one place or theme
  • Mix of fun and fundamental – should be relatable and meaningful
  • Easy to say, spell and understand
  • Ideally is “____ Greenway” to fit into the existing network in the region

After removing the duplicates, Artists of Color Council, Steering Committee and Working Groups (including several City of St. Louis department heads) reviewed approximately 600 name ideas before attending a workshop to narrow down the selections. The group reviewed the criteria and discussed all options before choosing their top 3 recommendations. The City of St. Louis provided input and those names were then legally vetted. Lastly, the Great Rivers Greenway Board of Directors met to choose the final name.

After a robust discussion at their March meeting, the Board selected “Brickline Greenway” to be the new name of this greenway, part of the overall network throughout the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County. The experience of this greenway will weave you through the heart of our city – no matter which of the many neighborhoods you’re passing through, you’re sure to notice one thing: brick. From the clay mines beneath your feet, this strong, gritty and gorgeous material has literally shaped our city for hundreds of years. It’s a testament to the sturdy, self-made attitude embodied by our city and our people. The newly renamed Brickline Greenway gives visitors an idea of what they’ll see as they explore – the combination of beautiful brick and native Missouri trees and plants. It pays homage to our history and invites everyone to collaborate toward building a more connected St. Louis.

What were the other top names?

Besides Brickline Greenway, the Board of Directors considered a variation of that name, Brick City Greenway, as well as 314 Greenway and Mill Creek Greenway. All of the names had merit and many pros and cons to consider. For example, what if St. Louis’ area code were ever to change? There is a Mill Creek Greenway in 5 other places, including Cincinnati, Kansas City and Nashville.

There are also significant plans to celebrate the history of Mill Creek Valley, a vibrant African American neighborhood in the middle of the city that was demolished in the name of urban renewal in the 1950s and the name of the watershed, through the design and artwork (by Damon Davis) of that section of the greenway.

Ultimately, the Board chose Brickline because it is simple, clear, and it speaks to St. Louis’ history, architecture, beauty and grit.

What is a Framework Plan?

The Framework Plan is a “road map” that sets a tone and overall recommendations for the greenway project and process. It presents a refined masterplan for the greenway, outlining a series of potential alignments and signature projects. It also contains information on how the greenway could work and contribute to equitable economic opportunity, what the greenway could look and feel like, and how the greenway can be realized and sustained long-term.

As the project moves forward, this plan will provide the framework to guide decision-making to directly support the mission, key principles and goals.

Who contributed to this plan?

Great Rivers Greenway is the lead agency, but it took many hands to make this happen. 125+ members of a Steering Committee and four Working Groups guided the process, facilitated by Bailey Strategic Innovation Group, plus an eight-member Artists of Color Council. With the help of Vector Communications, we interviewed elected officials, went to neighborhood meetings, held open houses and feedback & funfests. The Stoss Landscape Urbanism team (12+ firms, local and national) contributed their expertise to create this plan. Partners at the City of St. Louis and many organizations served on the committees and groups. Private funders contributed in addition to the local sales tax collected that funds our agency. And of course, our Boards of Directors (Great Rivers Greenway and Great Rivers Greenway Foundation) guided the staff as always.

What’s next? When will it be constructed?

Next steps for Great Rivers Greenway and their partners include continuing civic engagement, designing specific greenway segments, exploring public and private funding and governance options, coalition building for the economic development and equity plans as well as coordination with other projects in the city. This is just the beginning! Depending on the engagement, fundraising, technical feasibility and engineering, segments will move through design and into construction as the project unfolds.

This is a long-term project that will not all be done at once, but we’re open to how many different projects might be moving forward at any given time. Especially given the other developments in the area, this will be a fluid process! We appreciate your patience – and participation – as we navigate the many ways to bring this project to life.

How will the routes be chosen?

A set of four criteria for evaluating individual routes/corridors was developed based on 1) technical feasibility; 2) degree of connectivity; 3) potential impact (economic, environmental and equity); 4) potential experience. The evaluation process was a mix of art and science, of qualitative and quantitative assessments, of issues that can be tracked and measured precisely, and ones that require dialogue, debate and judgement. From these evaluations, a number of combinations of routes are possible, and the goal for the next phase of work is to further test these in close dialogue with neighborhood members and stakeholders to determine what combination of routes works best for the neighborhoods, and how they contribute to the overall concept.

How will those route choices impact neighborhoods? Do you use eminent domain? What might happen to property values?

Our work is often in public right-of-way, through parks and open spaces. We do not have the power of eminent domain. We occasionally acquire property or easements to bring the greenway to life, if people are interested in selling or donating. Nationwide, research shows that greenways do make areas more desirable and increase property values. Part of the Framework Plan calls for equitable policies and strategies to ensure affordable housing and benefits to those who live in this area now, while also bringing new opportunities to this area.

What about X other project in this area?

Our team is coordinating with dozens of others. From Major League Soccer to National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to Trailnet’s plan, the City Foundry and Armory District and more, we’re meeting and sharing data to ensure that plans coordinate together and can complement each other when possible. We’re also collaborating with non-geography plans like the St. Louis Development Corporation’s Equitable Development Plan.

How much will this cost and how will it be funded for construction and managed long-term?

From estimates of other projects around the country, one estimate suggests that this greenway could cost $250-300 million. This is a major public-private partnership, with your sales tax dollars at work from Great Rivers Greenway in addition to private funding. We are currently doing a fundraising feasibility study and as the design and engagement moves forward, cost estimates will become more specific and accurate. We’re also researching various forms of funding and governance for long-term operations and maintenance. We recognize with our partners at the City of St. Louis that we will need to find innovative solutions to take care of the greenway now and for years to come.

Has any of the greenway already been built?

Currently, there is a two-block section of the “Chouteau” Greenway built near the new Cortex MetroLink station between Boyle and Sarah.

How will art be part of this project?

Art can foster a look, feel personality and soul for the greenway. It is a tool to connect communities and educate people about the cultural contributions and histories of the places they work and live. Art also provides for expression and dialogue in a changing region. The arts component of this greenway can provide physical space and opportunity to reflect, learn and grow upon the complex and dynamic history of St. Louis. Public art along the greenway can serve as a resource for property owners, artists, community organizations and developers. Art can serve as a medium through which to deepen the greenway’s equity strategies.

Through partnerships that invite collaboration between artists and community organizations, prioritization of local and neighborhood artists, and process that centers community engagement often and early, greenway users and neighbors can feel a sense of ownership, pride and belonging along the greenway.

Art will also seek to engage with and reveal histories of St. Louis, creating a fuller picture of what makes this city unique. These stories include buried histories and racial truths that St. Louisans are ready to confront through courageous dialogue. For example, an art piece might be commissioned near the site of the former Mill Creek Valley neighborhood, once home to 20,000 black St. Louisans in the central corridor, which was demolished in the 1960s in the name of urban renewal. Art can engage with histories like this and create space for healing and community building.

How will this project impact the environment?

The greenway will open an extended network of land for improved ecological function. From green infrastructure and community gardens to new habitat, the opportunity to embed better ecological performance within the greenway landscape is immense. The linear street and greenways have the potential to capture and convey stormwater, enhancing filtration and water quality from adjacent urban sites while also enhancing the urban tree canopy. Vacant lots on the north side of the city have the potential to be converted for both social and ecological uses, reducing stormwater loads in rain gardens, creating native meadows and habitat gardens or growing food for communities. Larger open spaces within the central corridor can convert unused urban space into a public resource that provides diverse landscapes that modify micro-climates and increase surface porosity. While some strategies will be specifically adapted to unique site conditions, the greenway will pursue sustainability that balances ecological improvements with integrated social and educational opportunities.

How is security being addressed?

There are many ways to think about safety. For example, the lighting designer on the project will incorporate security and lighting into the design elements (such as making sure sight lines are clear, avoiding hiding spots) and public art projects that make people feel welcome and invited to be there. In addition, the stakeholders like local neighborhood groups or regional nonprofits will activate the greenway through programming efforts to provide an active, safe, and engaging experience. There are traditional tactics like patrols, greenway guides, emergency call boxes and cameras. The specifics of safety efforts will be developed as the project unfolds with community members and stakeholders and may vary throughout the project.

What’s the history of this project?

Early concepts for “Chouteau” Greenway predate the formation of Great Rivers Greenway. Plans for Chouteau Lake on the southern edge of Downtown St. Louis began taking shape in 1999, under the visionary leadership of McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS). Subsequently, the Chouteau Lake & Greenway Initiative was founded in the early 2000s and MBS engaged the HOK Planning Group, URS, ABNA, Bryan Cave LLP, Development Strategies, Great Rivers Greenway and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop the Chouteau Lake & Greenway Master Plan.

Partners approached Great Rivers Greenway in 2017 and privately funded an International Design Competition to get ideas from across the globe. Paired with engagement at a local level, the project was reignited and is now in planning.