Transportation officials urged motorists heading to Illinois from Missouri this weekend to avoid the Poplar Street Bridge, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel as crews near project completion.
Beginning at 8 p.m. Friday, crews will close the ramp from Interstate 44 east/Interstate 55 north to the bridge that joins with Interstate 64 across the Mississippi River, the Missouri Department of Transportation said in a news release. The closure is expected to end by noon Sunday.
Additionally, crews will close three lanes on eastbound Interstate 64 across the bridge from 8 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Monday, leaving only one eastbound lane open.
But MoDOT expects to open all lanes, including a new fifth eastbound lane, by the end of December, said Andrew Gates, a department spokesman.
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“Next year, we do have some remaining preventative maintenance work and some painting to do before the project is 100 percent complete, but that will be minimal impacts, during off-peak travel times,” Gates said.
The construction caused headaches for motorists throughout the months-long project as crews changed traffic patterns, closed lanes and limited access to the bridge. Combined with the closure of the Illinois Department of Transportation Martin Luther King bridge, motorists have had to find alternatives for getting across the river.
Building a new ramp from Interstate 44 east/Interstate 55 north was one of the first phases of the major construction project to widen the bridge and improve its structural integrity. At one point, crews moved the bridge nine feet to the south as part of construction efforts.
The work this weekend is weather permitting. Detours for the ramp closure will be marked.