ST. LOUIS, Mo– Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Senator Claire McCaskill announced today that the National Park Service will invest more than $5 million to undertake two major projects to renovate historic sites at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial under President Obama's economic recovery package.
“Following the example of President Franklin Roosevelt in the Great Depression of the 1930s, President Obama is putting Americans to work at our parks during the current economic crisis, undertaking projects that will not only energize the economy but ensure that we conserve and protect our nation's historic places for future generations,” Salazar said.
“Secretary Salazar's visit is important for our city,” McCaskill said. “I'm excited for him to have the opportunity to see St. Louis, the Arch grounds, and the great potential the city has to offer. As the city moves forward with stimulus projects and other local ventures, I look forward to hearing his input.”
The funding will restore the aging roof at the Old Courthouse, protecting the historic interior of the building. The existing roof will be replaced with approximately 20,000 square feet of standing seam copper to replicate the original material used in the l800s.
The project will be funded with $4.1 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed earlier this year by President Obama. The National Park Service expects to award a contract for the work early next year.
The courthouse, built between 1839 and 1862, was the site where escaped slaves Dred Scott and his wife Harriet sued their owner for freedom. After 11 years of litigation, the case resulted in the infamous Supreme Court opinion of 1857, which helped touch off the American Civil War.
In 1872, Virginia Minor, an advocate of voting rights for women, sued at the courthouse for the right to be allowed to vote based on the wording of the 14th Amendment and citizenship rights. The Supreme Court decided the case in 1874, stating that “the Constitution of the United States does not confer the right of suffrage upon anyone," because suffrage is not coexistent with citizenship.”
Secretary Salazar and Senator McCaskill also announced today that investments under the Recovery Act will allow for the replacement of the electrical relay control system in the tram system at the Gateway Arch. The project at the Arch will receive $947,000 in recovery funding, which will be added to $2.7 million in federal and private funding committed to the project in 2008.
The existing Gateway Arch tram operating system was installed in 1967 and has had minor upgrades over the last 40 years. Approximately 1 million visitors use the trams yearly. The project will provide visitors a continued safe experience by replacing components at the end of or past their normal life cycle, improving existing service, and updating and expanding the equipment with state of the art operating systems.
Design work is underway and construction will begin early next year. Visitors will still have access to the tram during the construction.
The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St Louis receives over 2.4 million visitors each year, and supports 1,600 jobs in the local community. Visitors to the Memorial spend nearly $ 10 million each year in the local economy.
Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of Department of the Interior's economic recovery projects, which total $3 billion.
The public can follow the progress of each project on www.recovery.gov and on www.interior.gov/recovery. Secretary Salazar has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force. Henderson and the Task Force will work closely with the Department of the Interior's Inspector General to ensure that the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility and transparency that President Obama has set.