Crews constructed a new two lane ramp from the bridge to southbound I-55/westbound I-44 and updated connections to eastbound I-44 and downtown St. Louis City. In addition they removed and replaced the driving surface on the westbound lanes.
Crews closed the ramp from westbound I-44 to northbound I-55 for nearly five months to construct and open a new, two-lane ramp to northbound I-55/I-64 across the bridge
On March 31, 2018, crews slid the eastbound lanes of the Poplar Street Bridge nine feet to the south. During the months before the slide, crews had placed the eastbound lanes on a track system, and over the course of a day, used hydraulic jacks to push and pull the bridge nine feet to the south.
Crews will tie the eastbound and westbound bridges together and fill the additional space between the two bridges with a new lane. This will, ultimately, create a fifth lane on the eastbound bridge between 6th Street in St. Louis City and Illinois Route 3 in Illinois. This project remains underway through December 2018
When the new eastbound lane is constructed and opened, crews will paint the bridge and will repair and replace several of the expansion joints along the bridge span to ensure that the bridge remains safe and operational for the foreseeable future.
What is the latest?
Work is currently underway on improvements to the eastbound bridge (eastbound I-64/northbound I-55) over the Mississippi River.
At this time, crews are working between the eastbound bridge and the westbound bridge to connect the bridges together and to fill in the space between the two bridges with a new eastbound lane. This is what drivers heading from St. Louis to Illinois on I-64 or I-55 can expect this year:
- Crews will have two westbound lanes closed around-the-clock across the bridge through December 2018. Currently, the two left lanes are closed. When they reopen in early October, and the two right lanes are closed, crews will also have to close access from Illinois Route 3 to eastbound I-64 for the three weeks the two right lanes are closed.
- Drivers will have four eastbound lanes across the bridge during peak traffic times, but may have lane closures during off-peak traffic hours.
- Driver can expect several weekend closures on eastbound I-64 across the bridge -- to slide the bridge, and to make joint replacements. Details on those closures will be announced when the specifics have been determined.
What is the situation?
In 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.
- Here is a copy of HDR Engineering Inc.'s report (5.35 Mb, pdf)
- Access Justification Report (45 Mb, pdf)
The approved projects includes three phases of work, two of which will be designed and managed by the the Missouri Department of Transportation.
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.