Update: I revisited the area in 2013 and wrote an article about the failed interstate at Saint Louis Magazine in 2018. I photographed the interchange one last time before it was demolished in February of 2020.
If the highway engineers would have had their way, you could have driven from I-55 north all the way to the McKinley Bridge, all the while avoiding the morass of the Poplar Street Bridge interchange in downtown. As you might have noticed, this fabled “755” was never built. Or was it? Throughout the downtown area various vestiges of the connections to this road were built, but left without much use. Check out this link for the planned route of the so-called “North-South Distributor.”
The huge entrance ramps onto Chestnut and from Pine are remnants of the proposed intersection of I-64 and 755. As you can see there is a huge swath of unused land left, and what I call “superfluous concrete.” Here is a picture looking north:
In the foreground you can see the Market Street Bridge. Here is the roadway looking south towards I-64:
Moving further south, you can still see the excess concrete left at the intersection of I-44, I-55 and the proposed 755. The city has given up on building 755, but has attempted to replace the interstate connection between I-44 and I-64 with the Truman Parkway. This will hopefully provide the missing connections at the Poplar Street Bridge approaches. Ever wonder why you can’t go from northbound I-55 to westbound I-64, or from southbound I-70 onto westbound I-64? 755 would have provide those links.
The North-South Distributor is a perfect example of a relatively unneeded interstate that out of town engineers tried to foist on the citizens of St. Louis. Luckily, it was never built, and those acres of land the interstate would have eaten are now still available for new tax generating businesses or conveniently located housing for downtown workers. The city and state have a plan for the “22rd Street Interchange” that will hopefully reutilize the vacant land around the west Market area.
2 Comments Add yours
Chris, I just recently came across your article on the North South distributor. Nice job. Most people don’t know anything about it. As a kid back in the mid sixties, I used to play on the Market Street bridge scaffolding. If they start selling off that property, it’ll interesting to see how much it goes for. Some of that stuff is appraised at over 750,000 an acre. Steve
Thanks, Steve! It’s certainly an interesting story out of St. Louis history that is increasingly becoming less well-known. Very few people my age have any idea this plan ever existed.