The owner of the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis will receive a $990,000 federal grant from to improve the visitor area, including security enhancements.
The National Park Service awarded the grant to the Great Rivers Greenway, which owns the bridge that once carried Route 66 over the Mississippi River, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The entire project on the bridge’s west side will cost about $5 million, which also includes sales-tax revenue and donations.
Construction is set to begin in 2022, and is expected to take 10-12 months.
The grant will help pay for removing invasive plants; adding native species and trees; building new nature trails, a drinking fountain and rain gardens; upgrading parking areas, and installing additional security features such as lighting, cameras, fencing and more.
The additional security tools will be welcomed. Many visitors were discouraged from parking on the St. Louis side of the bridge because of vehcile break-ins.
According to National Park Traveler, the grant was one of 19 projects nationwide to develop new or to improve 15 parks and four trails in economically disadvantaged urban areas.
The 5,300-foot-long bridge, built in 1929, famously contains a 22-degree bend in the middle. The New Chain of Rocks Bridge that carries Interstate 270 opened in 1966, and the older bridge closed four years later.
The bridge was used in a key scene of 1983’s “Escape from New York.” It appeared the span would be demolished, but the costs of doing so were too prohibitive.
In 1998, Trailnet leased the bridge and spent $4.5 million to shore it up for cycling and pedestrian use.
The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.
(Hat tip to Route 66 Association of Missouri; image of the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge and water intake tower No. 2 by cmh2315fl via Flickr)