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Old Chain of Rocks Bridge closes parking lot January 30, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Bicycling, Highways.

In a column by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Matthew Hathaway, we learn that Trailnet, which runs the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge that connects a pedestrian/biking trail from north St. Louis to Madison, Ill., is closing a parking lot on the Missouri side of the river indefinitely because of vandalism to vehicles there.

In an e-mail to the Post-Dispatch, Trailnet Executive Director Ann Rivers Mack announced Monday that the parking lot on the Missouri side would be closed indefinitely. She wrote that the group had tried to improve security at the lot, with little success. “Vandalism nonetheless continues, and we are working on a long-term plan,” Mack said.

Kathi Weilbacher, a spokeswoman for the group, said that the parking lot closure could be temporary and that the lot on the Illinois side of the bridge would remain open. Pedestrians and cyclists can still enter the 5,353-foot-long bridge from either side.

Hathaway isn’t thrilled with the closing, nor am I. He points out that with the closing of the lot, security on the Missouri side of the bridge probably will get worse because fewer people — and thus, fewer eyes — will be around to spot ne’er-do-wells there.

Trailnet presumably saw the folly in this move, and later told Hathaway that the Missouri parking lot could reopen soon if the group had “long-term partners” and more “regional stakeholder investment,” whatever that means.

Hathaway encourages fans of the bridge and readers to contact Mack at 314-416-9930 or annmack (at) trailnet.org if you think closing the lot is a poor solution.

In the meantime, if you want to visit the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, park on the Illinois side.  If you’re driving west on Chain of Rocks Road, aka Route 66, in Granite City, you’ll come to the base of the bridge anyway.

If you’re not on Route 66, the easiest way to get to the Illinois side of the bridge is to exit at Illinois Highway 3 off Interstate 270, then turn south toward toward the Chain of Roads Road intersection (map is here). From there, you go west on Chain of Rocks Road, over a bridge that spans a canal, then west to the base of the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge (map is here). There is parking on the side of the road and it’s safer, mostly because it’s more sparsely populated.

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