I-64 Daniel Boone Bridge to get new span and makeover
By: Michael R. Smith
In February 2013, the Missouri Department of Transportation plans to begin constructing a new Daniel Boone Bridge over the Missouri River on I-64 (Hwy. 40/61) to replace the oldest span of the current bridge. The construction will overlap by a year another major bridge project in St. Charles County over the same river: The westbound span of the Blanchette Bridge is closed until a replacement is finished in late 2013.
However, MoDOT officials say motorists on the Daniel Boone Bridge should see little of the traffic impact that the Blanchette Bridge has caused.
“For the most part motorists are not going to be affected by this,” said Linda Wilson Horn, MoDOT Community Relations Coordinator. “We may have the lanes narrowed a bit but the (same) number of lanes during the rush-hour period are going to stay open.”
MoDOT showed off its plans for the new $125-million bridge project at an open house on Nov. 13. MoDOT officials are confident that drivers will see few driving inconveniences caused by construction because the transportation agency plans on building a third bridge before altering any traffic patterns.
Beginning in February and continuing into late 2014 a completely new four-lane bridge will be built upstream of the existing two spans.
“Two years from now the new bridge will open,” said Jim Gremaud, MoDOT project director.
When the new bridge is finished eastbound drivers will be diverted onto it and the existing eastbound span — built in 1989 — will close for rehabilitation. The current westbound span will continue carrying traffic from Chesterfield into St. Charles County while the rehabilitation project is ongoing for most of 2015.
However, when the renovation of the current eastbound span is completed in late 2015 it will open to carry westbound traffic. The existing westbound span — built in 1935 — will be removed by the end of the year. When the project is completed four lanes will carry traffic in each direction.
The almost 80-year-old westbound span opened on what was then U.S. Hwy. 40 and carried traffic in both directions. Long-time residents will remember a traffic light system was later installed that changed the center lane direction for increased traffic flow at peak drive times until the 1989 span opened.
Gremaud explained that because the bridge was built before the interstate system was constructed it was never designed to carry freeway traffic. Now, its skinny three lanes cause traffic congestion at peak periods. Because of its age the span requires regular preventative maintenance.
There are a few other aspects to the new bridge project, including:
- The Spirit of St. Louis Boulevard Bridge over I-64 about 1-mile east of the river will be raised to a height of at least 16 feet. Gremaud said that the current bridge “is substandard for interstate traffic.”
- The Chesterfield Airport Road interchange will be rebuilt so that drivers on the north service road can access westbound I-64.
- A continuous fourth lane will run from the Chesterfield Airport Road interchange to Hwy. 94 in St. Charles County.
- A biking/walking path on the new span will connect the KATY Trail in St. Charles County to the Chesterfield Monarch Levee Trail in St. Louis County. An overlook mid-river will give cyclists and hikers a scenic view.
It’s a lot of construction but Horn was emphatic that all traffic lanes should be mostly open during construction. “We’ll have a few weekends where we’ll have to do some closures for construction. But, in general terms from the beginning of 2013 to the end of 2015 when we’re finished people shouldn’t have any impact at all.”