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Poplar Street Ramp project

PSB ramp construction continues

Crews connect the beams and support for the driving surface for the new ramps. For more photos, click here.

What is the latest?

Due to permit requirements, the work for the new northbound I-55 ramp and associated work on the Poplar Street Bridge has been delayed. The contract for the work has been awarded and contractors are starting work soon.

As an overall part of the project, MoDOT crews closed and removed the ramp from westbound I-44 to eastbound I-64 on the Poplar Street bridge in 2015.  This ramp was removed permanently to make room for the new two-lane ramp from westbound I-64 to southbound I-55 and westbound I-44.  Drivers can use the 6th Street Ramp, the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge, the Martin Luther King Jr Bridge and the Eads to get between downtown and Illinois.

All westbound lanes are currently opened on the PSB.  In addition, crews have opened the ramps between the westbound PSB and eastbound I-44 and southbound I-55/westbound I-44.

Members of MoDOT's Historic Preservation team evaluated much of the roadway underneath the ramps. As part of that work, they have investigated several areas:

Archeology at the PSB


You can view on-going construction images from our construction camera here.

MoDOT and IDOT held a public meeting on December 5, 2013, to discuss the upcoming work on the Poplar Street Bridge, the planned schedule for the work and the potential impacts to the commuting public.  At that meeting, both departments shared the upcoming schedule for the project and the potential impacts to the drivers on the Poplar Street Bridge:

To subscribe to receive e-mail project updates on the Poplar Street Bridge project, click here.


What is the timeline for this project?

The timeline for work has been determined to minimize the overall impact to traffic and to ensure that drivers have multiple options as construction detours. In several instances, one project must be complete before another one starts.



Traffic impact

Walnut Bridge removal and replacement (CAR2015)


Southbound Memorial Drive, access to I-55/I-44. Most of the construction is completed

Mississippi River Bridge completed


Reduction of traffic on PSB, McKinley and MLK bridges. The bridge is open to traffic

Ramp to eastbound I-44 closed


No access from Illinois to eastbound I-44 on PSB

Ramp from downtown to eastbound PSB removed Permanent This is a permanent closure. No access to the PSB from WB I-44, downtown.

IDOT project to resurface MLK

Summer 2015

No access to or from Illinois on MLK

Construction of ramp to eastbound I-44 and most of the ramp to southbound I-55


No access from Illinois to eastbound I-44 on PSB

IDOT project to construct ramp from MLK to westbound I-64

January – December 2016

Lane closures around MLK, I-64

Ramp from PSB to southbound I-55 closed


Access restored from PSB to eastbound I-44

No access from PSB to southbound I-55

Remainder of ramp to southbound I-55 built


No access from PSB to southbound I-55 during construction

Ramp from northbound I-55 to PSB construction, fifth lane added across PSB

Early 2017 to late 2018

One lane access to the PSB from northbound I-55 during construction. Weekend ramp and lane closures on the bridge.


What is the situation?

PSB ImprovementsIn the early 1990’s the St. Louis Regional Leaders were concerned about the traffic issues in downtown St. Louis. In 1992, MoDOT and IDOT embarked on an environmental study (EIS) to look for solutions. The resulting EIS very clearly spelled out that the problem was the Poplar Street Bridge (PSB). The PSB is one of only two bridges in the nation that carry three interstates (I-70, I-55, I-64) across a river. The PSB was built in the 1960’s and was never meant to carry the amount of traffic it does today. It was designed to 1960 standards and for today’s traffic, the ramp radii are too sharp, and there is not enough room between the exits and entrances thus causing major weaving issues. This is the reason the accident rate at this location is three times greater than a normal interchange and why trucks periodically overturn on the ramps. The study recommended building a new river bridge to the north and making substantial safety changes to the PSB.

In 2001, after many years of study, public meetings, regional discussion, and E/W Gateway approval, the DOT’s received a Record of Decision (ROD) from FHWA to move forward with the New River Bridge project. This ROD would build a New I-70 River Bridge about one mile north of the PSB. After I-70 was relocated to the new bridge, the PSB would only carry I-55 and I-64 traffic. As a part of that approved plan, the MO interchange on the PSB was to be rebuilt to eliminate the I-70 connection and build dual I-55 ramps in its place.

In the mid 2000’s, when both states realized that neither state could afford the nearly $2 billion dollar New River Bridge project, the EIS was revised to build the project in functional phases. The first phase, which is the four-lane Stan Musial Veterans Memorial I-70 bridge, opened in February 2014. Now that the new bridge has opened, MoDOT has started work to replace the PSB ramps, including removing redundant ramps.

By removing the redundant I-70 ramps, MoDOT could make room for dual I-55 ramps that would greatly enhance safety issues on the PSB and almost eliminate the congestion on all the interstates in the area.

Several interested parties were concerned that removing the I-70 ramps from the PSB could negatively affect the Sauget area in St. Clair County. Currently, about 3 percent of the traffic that uses the PSB travels to and from the Sauget area. East West Gateway Council of Governments hired an independent engineering firm, HDR Engineering Inc, to look at a workable option for making the needed improvements to the PSB, while making allowances to enhance the travel options for those traveling to Sauget.

In September 2012, the East-West Gateway Council of Governments voted to approve the funding for the Poplar Street bridge project, as amended by the proposals offered by HDR Engineering Inc.

The approved projects includes three phases of work, two of which will be designed and managed by the the Missouri Department of Transportation. MoDOT has released a Request for Qualifications from interested design firms. In addition, the department held an industry meeting to share information about the project, and to allow interested design forms to ask questions about the RFQ and the project.

Industry Meeting Video link | Industry meeting ppt slides | Meeting sign-in sheets

Construction on portions of this project will start in early 2014, after the Mississippi River Bridge project has opened to traffic.

Their proposal offered a three part solution:

1) Construct dual ramps between the Poplar Street Bridge and I-55 in both directions.
2) Construct a connector between the Martin Luther King bridge and Route 3 (Illinois project)
3) Extend the third lane on eastbound I-64 across the Poplar Street Bridge by widening the bridge.


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