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Great Rivers Centennial Greenway Marks Milestone



GreenwayDedication
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From left, at the July 29 dedication: Great Rivers Greenway Executive Director Susan Trautman; Great Rivers Greenway board member Monica Huddleston; University City Mayor Pro Tem Arthur Sharpe Jr.; state Rep. Rory Ellinger, District 72; and Washington University Executive Vice Chancellor of Administration Hank Webber. photo by Diana Linsley (click for larger version)
August 10, 2011
St. Louis just got a little greener.

A key segment of a 20-mile trail that will eventually link St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County, was recently unveiled by Great Rivers Greenway.

The one-mile segment of the Centennial Greenway provides pedestrians and cyclists a path from Forest Park to Delmar Boulevard in the Loop, where the official unveiling was held in conjunction with the Chuck Berry statue dedication on July 29.

"This is a great celebration of the first mile," Great Rivers Greenway Executive Director Susan Trautman said during the ceremony.

The greenway runs through the campus of Washington University, and the plaza at Delmar Boulevard provides bicycle parking and is highlighted by the eight-foot statue of

Berry just east of Fitz's American Grill & Bottling Works.

"We worked hard with University City to celebrate the music of Chuck Berry," Trautman said, noting the plaza entrance to the greenway that heads north from Delmar features hollow illuminated stainless steel walls with laser-engraved musical notes.

The segment is a small but crucial part of the Centennial Greenway, which will eventually connect Forest Park to the Katy Trail. When complete, the 20-mile greenway will run from Forest Park through the Washington University campus and University City, to Creve Coeur County Park in St. Louis County and into St. Charles County.

The Centennial Greenway is part of the River Ring, Great Rivers Greenway's initiative to transform the St. Louis area into a clean, green and connected region where residents have access to an interconnected system of greenways, parks, trails and bike routes.

University City resident Claudia Spener said she's excited about the new stretch of the greenway.

"I ride a lot from my home in U. City to Forest Park, so this will make it easier for me to ride," she said.

Anything that makes it easier and safer to cycle is a plus, said Dave Reiter of Chesterfield, who biked the new portion of the trail before the ribbon cutting ceremony.

"We (cyclists) love trails," he said. "We'll always take the trail if we have a choice. The more trails, the better."

More greenways also mean an increased quality of life, Reiter said, adding that they also help make the city an attractive place to live, work and play.

Central West End resident Mike Murray, a former elite cyclist and Great Rivers Greenway board member, echoed that sentiment.

"It makes the region much more livable," he said, referring to the greenway. "It also provides alternative transportation opportunities."

Murray said Washington University has been a big help with the project. Great Rivers Greenway and Washington University have funded the construction of various segments of the Centennial Greenway, and the university also provided the right-of-way and land for certain portions of the greenway.

"Our partnership with Wash U allowed us to take the trail through their campus, which is great," he said.

The section of the greenway that crosses campus begins at Forsyth just west of Goldfarb Hall, passes Olin Library and ends at the approach to the Forest Park Parkway overpass. The greenway through campus will connect to the already-finished trail along Forsyth (from Skinker Boulevard to Hoyt Drive on the north side of the Washington University campus) to the Greenway Walk, which runs north of campus from the Forest Park Parkway overpass into University City.

"The Centennial Greenway will serve as a valuable link between Washington University and its surrounding communities," said Henry S. Webber, executive vice chancellor for administration at Washington University. "Not only does the greenway provide active recreation opportunities, but it also creates greater access for sustainable transportation to and from the university."

He added that the greenway will help people get to and from work and home by bike. "Every car that isn't commuting to work is great," he said.

Norma Juracsik of Clayton is on board with that.

"I'm delighted to hear about the greenway," she said. "I think it's wonderful. The greener St. Louis is, the better."

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