2010 • MONDAY • M 1





Ditch 1.4-mile stretch of I-70 downtown for a tree-lined boulevard, group advises
launched an international competition to redesign the 91-acre Arch grounds by its 50th anniversary in 2015. And there is the new Mississippi River bridge, set to open in 2014, which could ease the traffic flow on I-70 downtown. That makes now a great time to seriously rethink the relationship between downtown and the riverfront, Ihnen said. “This is a big opportunity, he said. “And we realized ” no one else is talking about this. ” While the three-block lid would be an improvement over the current situation, the tunnel it requires would be pricey, said Ihnen, and its impact would be small. City to River’s project would stretch 1.4 miles, filling in the depressed lanes in the core of downtown and knocking down the elevated highway that heads north from the Edward Jones Dome and replacing both with a treelined boulevard that would feed into I-70 by the new bridge. This sort of highway teardown has happened elsewhere. In San Francisco, it created the bay-hugging Embarcadero. In Boston, a new greenway courses through downtown. Here, it could give St. Louis a “new front door, City to River supporters say. ” The project would essentially shift Memorial Drive to the east, creating an additional 3.2 acres of prime downtown real estate between the Poplar Street and Eads bridges, with more land to the north. “Make it more attractive, more walkable, more floors to build things on, said Bob Lewis, president of Devel” opment Strategies. “Given what’s there now, you could do quite a bit of development. ” Today, nearly everyone agrees that cutting downtown off from the river with an interstate 45 years ago was a mistake. “A disastrous decision, said Jeff Rainford, ” chief of staff to Mayor Francis Slay. “What do you do about it?” he asked. “That’s another question. ” While Rainford has met with members of City to River, he said the mayor’s office was reluctant to take a position on the idea, because of the ongoing Arch grounds competition. One goal of the redesign, he said, should be to better connect the Arch with its city, but he said it’s not City Hall’s place to tell world-class architects how to do that. Ihnen and fellow organizer Rick Bonasch said their group has met with the finalists in the design competition. But the roadway itself is the domain of officials at the Missouri Department of Transportation, and any decision to dig it up will ultimately belong to them. MoDOT spokesman Drew Gates said the agency is familiar with City to River’s idea, and is open to it. Its main concern is not with $1.1 billion in real estate investment but with a different number: 50,000. That is how many cars MoDOT projects will still use the depressed section each day after the new bridge opens. It is a key north-south artery for the St. Louis region, and they are not yet sure whether replacing it with a narrower boulevard, with stoplights and pedestrians, is workable. “That’s the long and the short of it, Gates said. “If ” their proposals can handle the traffic and we can see that it works, then it’s a lot easier for us to say yes, that’s a good idea. ” Ihnen said his group, which is all volunteers, hasn’t yet done any traffic studies. But he notes that Kingshighway carries 50,000 cars a day in spots in the Central West End. Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago carries

A grass roots planning group called City to River is urging MoDOT and city officials to fill in the depressed lanes and knock down the elevated section of Interstate 70 downtown and replace it with a pedestrian-friendly boulevard. The group says this would free up several acres downtown for new development.

Replacements reap benefit of strike at car plant in China

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Area for new development Renovated Memorial Drive

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parts factory in southeastern China have won higher wages — but not necessarily for themselves. Factory managers began hiring a steady stream of replacement workers on Sunday, and a significant number of strikers went back to work after increases in wages and benefits, even as many others remained on strike. The 20 or so members of the factory’s council of workers, chosen by the workers to represent them when the strike began on Wednesday, went into hiding over the weekend, fearing retaliation by the authorities. It is too early to tell whether the apparent resolution of this strike — somewhat higher wages but lost jobs for many of the strikers — will set a pattern elsewhere as labor unrest spreads. Workers in the industrial southeast of China and elsewhere have been turning a labor shortage to their advantage by demanding better pay and working conditions. But in Zhongshan, Honda has used the area job market to its advantage. The Honda Lock parts factory in Zhongshan can run on lower-skilled, less-educated workers than the Honda transmission factory in Foshan, a two-hour drive to the northwest. The Foshan strike brought the company’s autoassembly operations in China to a temporary standstill — and the regular work force there was lured back to its jobs with reportedly much larger wage increases than Honda is offering in Zhongshan. Replacement workers and returning employees in Zhongshan are receiving 11 percent higher pay and a 33 percent rise in allowances for food and housing, as of Sunday. The combined increase in wages and benefits was considerably less than the near doubling of wages alone that the strikers had sought. Even so, the improved compensation — wages of $152 a month and an allowance of $59 a month — was enough to make the jobs attractive to replacement workers. The remaining strikers held a small rally outside the factory on Sunday morning but then went home and made no effort to picket as operations resumed.

ZHONGSHAN, CHINA • Striking workers at a Honda auto

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Local Machinists reject contract, OK a strike; pension proposal is cited
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nearly that many. It is still just an idea, or rather a new try at an old one. But it’s starting to get taken more seriously by local decision-makers, Bonasch said. And the more numbers they have to make their case, the better. “We’re going to keep running with it, he said. ”

The 2010 Komen Race for the Cure set a record for participants in the walk and race with 71,205 people. See a photo slideshow and video from Saturday’s Komen Race for the Cure in St. Louis. stltoday.com

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Tom Gianino, a 27-year Boeing employee, said he voted to reject the contract and to strike, in part, because of the loss of pension benefits for new employees. “I’m not going to be here, but I want to leave a legacy that we left this in better shape than when we found it, ” said Gianino, a materials handler who participated in the 99-day strike the Machinists waged against McDonnell Douglas in 1996. Like many of those who attended Sunday’s meeting, he wore a T-shirt that read: “A quality contract for a quality workforce. The International Association of Machinists ” represents 2,533 workers in the St. Louis area. In a statement, Boeing Co. officials expressed disappointment in Sunday’s vote. “The work we perform here in St. Louis is critically important to our country and the men and women of our armed services, the company said. “The fair and equi” table contract we put forward recognizes the contributions made by our union employees in terms of enhanced salary, benefits and pension. ” Last week, union aerospace workers began returning to work at Boeing’s C-17 assembly facility in Long Beach following a monthlong strike there. The contract included a similar contribution benefit plan to the one St. Louis-area machinists object to, company officials said. But King said the future of the C-17 military cargo jet program is more precarious than the products built in St. Louis — namely the F-15, F/A-18 Super Hornet and the missiles plant. Local employees also do some work on the C-17. King said there will now be a seven-day cooling off period. During that time, King can send a letter to Boeing alerting the company that workers will strike on midnight of the seventh day after receipt of that letter. King said he planned to contact Boeing officials Sunday to notify them of the strike vote and see whether they are willing to go back to the bargaining table. “I’ll probably give them until Wednesday to go back to the table, King said. “If we don’t hear anything from ” them by Wednesday, we will be dropping the letter to go on strike. ” King said the union has a strike fund through the district and the international.

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