JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Department of Transportation is reminding motorists that the westbound bridge carrying Routes 54/63 over the Missouri River in Jefferson City will be closed for painting and deck repairs for about four months beginning in early to mid-April.
The eastbound bridge will remain open and will be striped to carry two lanes of eastbound and two lanes of westbound traffic.
Since the $7 million construction contract was awarded in December, MoDOT officials have been working with the contractor, Saffo Contractors, Inc. of Wilmington, N. C., to fine-tune the project schedule. The 120-day closure is set to begin within the first few weeks of April, with a firm date to be announced closer to the project start.
In addition to the bridge closure, all access ramps from Route 54/63 to West Main Street, the eastbound on-ramp from McCarty St. to Route 54/63, and the westbound on-ramp from Route W to Route 54/63 will be closed. Speed limits will also be reduced on and near the bridge.
Prior to the bridge closure in April, there will be some periodic single-lane closures at night to allow the contractor to perform preliminary preparation work. The entire project will take 16 months to complete.
“We’re continuing to narrow down the specifics on this project so we can provide motorists with as much advance notice as possible,” said Patty Lemongelli, construction and materials engineer for MoDOT’s Central District. “We’re hoping folks will begin now to prepare for the closure knowing it will happen sometime in early to mid-April.”
Lemongelli encouraged commuters and others to begin having discussions with their employers, doctors, caregivers and others on ways to avoid peak travel times on the bridge. If possible, MoDOT is asking drivers to alter their work hours or arrange to work from home if that is an option.
Barring any accidents or stalled vehicles, traffic should move across the eastbound bridge at a steady pace, Lemongelli said. Still, traffic speeds will be slower than usual so motorists are asked to be patient and allow extra time for their commutes, especially during the morning and evening rush hours.
MoDOT has been working with the Jefferson City Police and Public Works departments on an incident management plan to ensure smooth traffic flow on both state routes and city streets during the closure.
“We know closing the bridge will be a concern, especially for commuters,” said Lemongelli. “We will do all we can to minimize the impact and keep motorists informed about the project. In return, we’re asking those who might have the flexibility to alter their commute times to consider that option.”
The eastbound bridge, built in 1991 carries about 27,000 vehicles a day, while about 28,000 vehicles a day use the westbound structure, which opened in 1955.
“This work, though inconvenient, will allow us to properly maintain one of our most valuable assets and investments,” Lemongelli said. “If not properly maintained, this bridge would cost $100 million to replace.”
More information on the project, including the option to sign up for e-mail updates, is available at www.modot.org/central or by calling 1-888-ASK-MoDOT (275-6636).