When one section of I-64 opens, prepare for another to close

News-DemocratSeptember 23, 2013 

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Commuters received some relief Monday as lane closures on two major interstates reopened slightly ahead of schedule.

However, another shutdown of Interstate 64 is tentatively planned for October.

The closed lanes of eastbound I-64 and westbound lanes of I-55/70 in East St. Louis reopened early Monday morning, according to Jeff Church with the Illinois Department of Transportation. Traffic had been detoured on I-64 since Sept. 13 and on I-55/70 since Friday night.

"Actual construction during the nine days went very well," Church said. "We got done a few hours early even with (scattered) rain for two or three days."

Meanwhile, officials said westbound lanes on Interstate 64 will be reduced to a single lane from 7 p.m. Monday until 5 a.m. Tuesday between 18th Street and I-55/70 in East St. Louis. (See linked story at right).

State highway workers were repaving the interstates to connect with the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge. The $708 million bridge is expected to be opened to traffic in 2014.

Interstate 64 was closed to eastbound traffic between I-55/70 and 25th Street. Traffic was congested near the I-64 lane closures, but project managers did not receive the influx of complaints they expected from commuters, Church said.

"Honestly, we did not get the calls into the office and emails we thought we were going to get. Hopefully, people seemed to have gotten the word. I was really surprised we didn't get more concerns expressed to our office."

Church said state highway workers are tentatively planning the closure of westbound lanes on I-64 in mid-October. The date is not set, though, because of weather and additional traffic due to possible St. Louis Cardinals baseball games.

Additional roads will soon be relocated and built to accommodate the new bridge, according to a statement from Gov. Pat Quinn.

More than $5.6 million in work was recently awarded to Baxmeyer Construction in Waterloo to relocate Route 3 and Missouri Avenue, and build a connector road. The work is not expected to impact traffic.

Route 3 will be relocated form River Park Road about 2,500 feet, and Missouri Avenue will be moved from the relocated Route 3 about 2,800 feet southwest. The connector road will be built between River Park Drive and the realigned Route 3.

The construction of the bridge has created or supported more than 3,400 jobs, according to Quinn.

State Rep. Jay Hoffman, a Democrat from Swansea, said the project has had an important economic impact on the region since it began in 2009.

"The completion of this bridge will provide a boost to the local economy by allowing job-creating businesses to transport their products more quickly and efficiently across the metro-east and country," Hoffman said. "It's also important to continue to improve our infrastructure to meet the future needs of the region."

Funding for the bridge is split between Illinois, Missouri and the federal government.

Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at dkelley@bnd.com or 618-239-2501.

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