JEFFERSON CITY – Both the eastbound and westbound bridges that carry Interstate 70 over the Lamine River west of Boonville will be repaired this summer under a contract awarded yesterday by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. The $3.8 million contract was awarded to APAC-Missouri of Columbia.
Work on the project will begin in early June and will eventually reduce I-70 traffic to one lane in each direction. However, the work requiring the full bridge closures and head-to-head traffic on I-70 will not start until after the Fourth of July and will be completed before Labor Day. The entire project is scheduled for completion in November.
Each of the 50-year-old bridges carries about 27,000 vehicles per day. The Missouri Department of Transportation expects backups and traffic delays during peak travel times, which are typically Thursday, Friday and Sunday afternoons.
“I-70 is the state’s busiest corridor, and this project will have a tremendous impact on traffic flow, especially during peak travel times, on holidays and when there are significant special events,” said David Silvester, district engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Central District. “This project is one of 15 work zones on I-70 this construction season, and we want to make sure people are aware so they can plan ahead.”
MoDOT officials are strongly encouraging I-70 motorists to use alternate east-west routes, such as U.S. Routes 50 and 36, while the project is in progress.
“We know this work will be an inconvenience, but maintaining the bridges will provide 20 or more years of additional service, as well as a smoother ride for travelers,” Silvester said. “It’s important that we preserve the investments we’ve made in these bridges.”
MoDOT is also hoping the project will help motorists embrace the zipper merge, a newer concept in driving through heavily congested work zones. When traffic is slowed or stopped, the zipper merge encourages motorists to use both lanes of traffic until they reach the point where the road is closed, then take turns with other drivers to safely and smoothly ease into the remaining lane.
“We as drivers are so used to seeing a ‘lane closed ahead’ sign and immediately getting over into the lane that will remain open through the work zone,” said Silvester. “What folks don’t realize is that this driving habit can actually back up traffic needlessly when there is heavy congestion.”
When motorists use both lanes of traffic until reaching the defined merge area and then alternate in "zipper" fashion into the open lane, the overall length of the traffic backup is reduced by 40-50 percent. The zipper merge also:
- Reduces differences in speeds between two lanes;
- Reduces congestion on freeway interchanges; and
- Creates a sense of fairness and equity that all lanes are moving at the same rate.
For more information and to sign up to receive periodic updates on this project, visit www.modot.org/central. More information about the zipper merge can be found at http://www.modot.org/workzones/ZipperMerge.htm.
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