by Ray Poirier | Interstate 70 was both hailed and condemned when it was built 50 years ago. Sure, it moved traffic through St. Louis, Missouri, but it also ran through the heart of the city, thus cutting off one side from the other.
That problem weighed heavily on the operators of Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. when it opened its multi-million dollar Lumiere Place casino in the Lacledes Landing area of the St. Louis riverfront in December.
It also didnt help when the company added the swank Four Season Hotel in February.
But money well-spent can sometimes alleviate such problems. So Pinnacle CEO Dan Lee approached city officials with an offer to fund the $8 million needed to build a connecting walkway beneath the interstate. The officials accepted gladly since the walkway also would make it possible for the hundreds of thousands of conventioneers who visit St. Louis annually to safely cross the roadway.
Last week the project was completed. The walkway is brightly carpeted and includes moving walkways and television monitors that air ads for the casino, the hotel and the restaurants. The walk takes about 90 seconds.
"This (walkway) connects the whole project to the rest of our community," said a spokeswoman for the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission.
As for the casino folks, the only word seems to be "Hallelujah!"