Chippewa Avenue Viaduct

Two of the strangest lacunae in St. Louis built environment history are the Chippewa and Gravois underpasses that lead into the Bevo neighborhood. The first one, the Chippewa underpass, was clearly necessitated by the large amount of rail traffic on several lines that passed over the major artery in the mid Twentieth Century. Newspapers report that the underpass opened in 1940 and cost $505,000 and eliminated the at-grade crossing. They also reported that almost immediately there were repeated horrible traffic collisions in and around the new viaduct. Some things never change.

You can see that there were originally three lines, while there seems to only be one today. There obviously is less traffic today than one hundred years ago.

The use of concrete places the construction in the Twentieth Century and the pedestrian walkways have been closed for as long as I remember. I seriously doubt these accessed streetcar platforms, as some people have claimed, but perhaps readers might remember.

As can be seen below, the actual rail trestle is a fraction in size of the space left by the two overpasses for street traffic.

Long term I wonder about the structural stability of these massive constructions that cut through what is obviously a giant hill that was too large to go around.

These underpasses are hard to deal with; they are not wide enough for four lanes of modern day traffic, but they don’t work well as two lanes due to the current traffic volumes. Everyone is left unhappy in this situation without a huge capital expenditure to replace this huge infrastructure feature.

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