JEFFERSON CITY – Work to switch traffic on the westbound Route 54/63 bridge over the Missouri River in Jefferson City to the eastbound bridge so the westbound structure can be painted will begin at 7 p.m. Friday. The full closure of the westbound bridge is expected before rush hour either Monday, May 2 or Tuesday, May 3, depending on weather conditions.
Here’s what drivers can expect leading up to the closure, weather permitting:
The first stage of the traffic switch will start at 7 p.m. on Friday. That work will include finishing the crossover that will divert westbound traffic on to the eastbound bridge and placing the concrete barriers on the eastbound bridge that will separate eastbound and westbound traffic.
When stage one is complete, sometime before 7 a.m. on Saturday, eastbound bridge traffic will be limited to using the two far left lanes. At that time, the contractor will suspend operations to allow for freer traffic flow.
Work will resume at 7 p.m. Saturday, when eastbound bridge traffic will be reduced to one lane - the far right lane. Work on switching traffic to the full detour will continue until completed either Monday or Tuesday.
“It’s difficult to predict the exact time the final switch will take place, especially given the rain in the forecast, but drivers should be prepared to be using only one bridge by early next week,” said Patty Lemongelli, construction and materials engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Central District. “The first day of the closure will be the real test, and we’ll be monitoring traffic flow, as well as traffic signals on surrounding city streets and state highways to ensure traffic is moving as smoothly as possible.”
Still, motorists should be prepared for delays on the bridge, especially during peak travel times, throughout the duration of the four-month closure.
In addition to the bridge closure, the following access ramps will be closed:
- All access ramps from Route 54/63 to and from 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.
A map showing the closures can be found on MoDOT’s website at www.modot.org/central.
“We expect the first week to be the most difficult,” Lemongelli said. “After that, we’re hopeful drivers will get used to the traffic changes and figure out the drive times and routes that work best for them.”
When all is said and done, Lemongelli said, the number of through lanes carrying Routes 54 and 63 will remain the same at two. The third lane dropped as a result of closing the westbound bridge is actually the lane for the Route W on-ramp.
MoDOT officials are also reminding motorists about the Steer It and Clear It law, which requires motorists involved in minor, non-injury traffic crashes to move their vehicles onto the shoulder or other safe location nearby when safely possible.
Driver should also obey the rules of the road to stay safe and Arrive Alive. That means buckling up, driving the speed limit, putting down cell phones and staying alert and focused behind the wheel.
More information, including a variety of tools available to help bridge commuters stay informed, is available at www.modot.org/central or by calling 1-888-ASK-MoDOT (275-6636).