Highway 40 is a major road through the St. Louis area. Since the beginning of 2008, we've been unable to take it to many of our destinations, because two different five mile sections of it have been shut down for reconstruction. Last year when the first section re-opened Tony and I attended a celebration and walked on the roadway before it opened to cars. When they announced that they were going to have another event for the second portion of the road, we knew we had to be there. The day was today.
The whole thing was very well organized. Although you could enter at any of the reconstructed interchanges, we drove to the eastern end and took a shuttle bus to the highway ramp at Hampton. There were hundreds of people taking advantage of the opportunity to walk on the road before it opened to traffic; from a distance, the highway was full of color.
This year they designated the westbound lanes for pedestrians and the eastbound ones for bikes, which made the whole thing run more smoothly. The only thing I had to watch out for was a couple of piles of dog poop. There were dogs of every size, from dachshunds to Great Danes.
I saw babies in strollers, toddlers being pulled in wagons, young children on tricycles and bikes with training wheels, and a few on their parent's shoulders. A woman on a handicapped scooter was slowly making her way down the road, and a older gentleman using a cane walked deliberately by himself. One or two joggers breezed by. A group of skateboarders were taking advantage of some slight inclines in the road. When they'd get down to the bottom of one, they were going pretty fast. Later I saw them on the bicycle side, which was probably more appropriate.
Not everyone was walking on the pedestrian side. There was a dad and his son throwing a football back and forth, an group of people playing Four Square, and a collection of people on yoga mats practicing their sun salutations. (I found out they were doing some advertising for a nearby studio.) We walked past the area where they were going to have an official ribbon cutting ceremony later in the day. The rows of folding chairs in front of the stage took up a good portion of those lanes.
The median had been decorated with chalk in several spots. I found a small piece and added a bit:
We walked about two miles to the west, and then turned around and made our way back to the starting point. By the time we started walking up the exit ramp to leave, I was ready to be done. The temperature this afternoon was in the upper 30s, and the slight breeze didn't help. When we finished walking and got back on the shuttle bus, it was nice and warm!
Some parts of Highway 40 have been in use since the 1930s--long before the Interstate system was developed. It was long overdue for an upgrade; now that the road is up to current standards, the signage all says Interstate 64. Will anyone in the area ever call it that, though?