ST. LOUIS – Concerns were raised over the weekend when people saw something they hadn’t seen in years: vehicles being allowed onto Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard in front of the Gateway Arch. 

FOX 2 has learned it’s actually welcome news.

Portable motorized roadblocks have been permanent in recent years, blocking vehicle traffic on the stretch of the boulevard that passes between the Arch and the Mississippi River. It’s a signature stretch of roadway, long seen as St. Louis’s “welcome mat.”

Videos posted on social media showed more than a dozen vehicles and a small crowd of people on the boulevard Sunday night, with a motorized roadblock raised and lowered to let them come and go.

FOX 2 first reported about the roadblocks and police locking gates to cut off access in April 2022. The area had become home to out-of-control street parties; gunfire was common, but the traffic over the weekend was a sign of progress, not problems. The group gathered there to hold a rehearsal for an event on July 14 at the boulevard.

A spokesman for the City of St. Louis confirmed that a group is planning to host their 10th annual fashion and car show on the boulevard in front of the Arch. The group has hosted a number of events in the city in the past, and the organizer of the event has permission to hold rehearsals on-site. 

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Sunday night was one of those scheduled rehearsals. The City of St. Louis, Great Rivers Greenway, and the Gateway Arch Park Foundation were aware of this ahead of time. There may be another rehearsal prior to the event. 

Residents and visitors hope it’s a sign of things to come.   

“It’s a beautiful, beautiful park area to enjoy, to exercise, to have picnics, to bring the family, to see the Arch, to see the bridges. We love it here,” Angie Reidner, a part-time downtown resident, said. “I’d love for the area to be open—I’d love for traffic to be coming through.”

St. Louis police note their stepped efforts to stop downtown mayhem are showing signs of turning things around. Police recently prevented an incident at Kiener Plaza, a favorite spot for downtown visitors, which has had issues with crime and violence in recent years.

“We’re trying to make some headway in those areas,” Capt. Christian Stamper said. “Getting a handle on some of these issues that we have downtown, I think, can help the overall safety of the city as well. People are willing to come downtown, go the events. They see we have police presence, visibility, and that we are actually enforcing laws.”

These are, after all, places people are supposed to be, not the other way around.