About 200 people, including a full marching band and food truck vendors, turned out in late June for the grand opening of the new bicycle/pedestrian path over the Meramec River as part of the rebuilt Interstate 44 bridge in Fenton, Missouri. The “once in a lifetime” project was a cooperative effort between the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT); the Municipal Park Grant Commission of St. Louis County; the communities of Kirkwood, Sunset Hills, and Fenton; and Great Rivers Greenway.
The 12-foot-wide protected path for walking, running, and biking across the river is part of the Meramec Greenway, which currently consists of five sections totaling more than 15.5 miles. The Meramec Greenway Master Plan calls for it to one day stretch 50 river miles from the Meramec’s confluence with the Mississippi River all the way to the City of Pacific.
“This is a rare, rare opportunity,” said Susan Troutman, CEO of Great Rivers Greenway at the grand opening celebration. “What a gift for six agencies to work together and make an impact. It’s an incredible piece of the puzzle.”
The bridge connects bikers and hikers to multiple parks and civic resources, including Emmenegger Nature Park, Unger Park, Powder Valley Nature Center, Fenton City Park, Olde Towne Fenton, World Wide Technology Soccer Park, and George Winter Park.
Along with directional signage and scenic views of the Meramec River, amenities include bike racks, covered picnic tables, native plant gardens, and parking on the east end of the Interstate 44 bridge trail, which is accessed off of Stoneywood Drive. A rest station near the west end of the bridge has a shelter, bike racks, and bike tool station.
“Over the years, there has been a great deal of interest from the cycling community for a bridge that crosses the Meramec River,” said Tom Blair, MoDOT district engineer for the St. Louis Region, in a previous statement. “We are ecstatic that we are able to partner with Great Rivers Greenway and the municipalities on both sides of the Meramec River to make this a reality.”