‘Perfect storm,’ construction combine to close Baxter Road
By: Kate Uptergrove
Heavy rain on Sept. 25 couldn’t have come at a worse time for the ongoing construction along Baxter Road in Chesterfield. The result was flooding and debris that closed the road shortly before 10 p.m. and kept it closed until 6:45 a.m. on Sept. 26.
David Wrone, public information manager for St. Louis County’s departments of highways and traffic, explained the series of events that caused the problem, but stressed that “the (newly installed) box culvert was not blocked.”
“The culvert operated as it was supposed to – with water flowing through it,” Wrone said.
What happened he said was a “perfect storm.”
“I’m not trying to be trite, but a series of things happened to create the perfect storm, which caused the road to flood. First, we had extremely heavy rain. Second, it came just as we were preparing to lay sod,” Wrone said.
In order to lay the sod, Wrone explained that a protective silt barrier needed to be removed from the sides of the road. That activity already had been completed in preparation for sod to be laid on Sept. 26 when the rain came. Without the barrier in place, dirt and debris washed into the road and clogged the temporary pipes that were to act as relief valves for the culvert.
Also complicating the situation was the fact that the final pavement had not yet been laid on the bridge, making it lower than the road.
“The timing and combination of events could not have been worse,” Wrone said.
But the good news is that no permanent damage was done and by Sept. 26, the silt barriers as well as a little added protection were back in place, protecting the roadway until sod can be laid.
“Which will be done as soon as possible,” Wrone said.
Final paving of the new bridge will take place before mid-October, and Wrone says the good news in that is that “the bridge will not be closed during paving.”
“It’s a three-lane bridge, and we will be paving one lane at a time, at night, leaving two lanes open to traffic,” Wrone said.