Looming government shutdown could shutter tourist sites and furlough workers

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR)  - The looming federal government shutdown will hurt St. Louis like few other places should it come to fruition at 12:01 Tuesday morning.

On top of the thousands of federal workers going unpaid here, thousands of visitors will be "locked out" of our greatest icon, our "face" to the rest of the world:  the Gateway Arch.

Safe to say the 2000-3000 visitors who’ve visited the past week would walk away with a far different impression than they now have of St. Louis if Arch ticket booths were closed; the workers who sell them were gone, and there was no way to get to the top anymore.

A group visiting from South Dakota really put it into perspective.

“That’s kind of a big deal.  If they shut it down, that’s kind of like not being able to see Rushmore.  You can’t see it, unless you get up there,” said Billy Cedar, likening the Arch to Mt. Rushmore in his home state.  

“I feel like a lot of people come to St. Louis to see the Arch.  That’s kind of their whole experience when they come to St. Louis,” said Lindsey Cline, also of South Dakota.  

About 75 National Expansion Memorial workers at the Arch Grounds and the Old Courthouse will be furloughed Tuesday if there’s a shut down.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which keeps barge traffic going on the Mississippi River and operates recreational facilities on area waterways, will likely furlough more than 500 workers.

But cutting people off from the Arch will likely have more of an impact on how screwed up things look in Washington from the view in St. Louis.

Even people who understand the politics behind it all; who think government spending is way out of control, and who favor defunding Obamacare say that you have to draw the line somewhere.  In St. Louis, you draw the line at the Arch.

Kevin Cline, also visiting from South Dakota, favors defunding Obamacare and slashing federal spending.

“In my opinion they government has been wasting money for years.  If they’ve got to shut something down, first off, the politicians should lose their money first before all of this other stuff gets shut down,” he said of the potential Arch closure.  

“It’s the arch.  You’ve got to be able to get in it and come see it,” Cedar said.  

Maybe not, come Tuesday.  

Follow Andy Banker on Twitter and Facebook:
Email: andy.banker@tvstl.com

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