Metro-East News

Eads will have tours, food trucks Friday to celebrate upgrade

Commuters who normally use the Eads Bridge to go over the Mississippi River will need to find an alternate route on Friday, as a celebration is planned on the 142-year-old structure.

With the $48 million Eads Bridge rehabilitation complete, Bi-State Development, along with representatives from the Federal Transit Administration and elected officials from both Illinois and Missouri, are scheduled to take part in a community celebration.

To allow for the event, the Eads Bridge is scheduled to be closed on Friday from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Organizers plan to have a special program on the top deck of the bridge beginning at 10 a.m.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m the event will include local food trucks for people to order food and drinks while exploring the top deck by foot. The bridge also carries the MetroLink across the Mississippi River.

According to Bi-State Development, the project, which took four years to complete, extends the life of the bridge by 75 years.

The rehabilitation project included 1.2 million pounds of new steel.

This was the first time a major rehabilitation was done on the structure of the bridge, said Patti Beck, director of communications for Bi-State Development.

The bridge carries more than 300 MetroLink trains a day.

“This is the only link for us for light rail,” Beck said. “It is key to have that bridge in service to serve the region.”

Federal money paid for 91 percent of the project, including $27 million of federal stimulus money. The city of St. Louis, which co-owns the bridge with Bi-State, turned over a $4.8 million federal grant to the project. Local sales tax dollars covered the rest of the costs, Beck said.

Among those expected to attend Friday’s ceremony are the marching bands from East St. Louis High School and University City High School. St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern; U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro; state Sen James Clayborne, D-Belleville; and former U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello also are expected.

To attend, people can reach the event by walking out onto the bridge or taking shuttles, which are planned to operate from the west end of the Eads Bridge in Missouri and from the East Riverfront MetroLink Station in Illinois, organizers said.