Metro-East News

Westbound Jefferson Barracks Bridge set to reopen Friday morning

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IDOT wants you to slow down and eliminate distractions while driving through work zones.
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IDOT wants you to slow down and eliminate distractions while driving through work zones.

Commuters who head to Missouri during rush hours can breathe a sigh of relief.

The Missouri Department of Transportation announced Thursday that the westbound Jefferson Barracks Bridge will reopen Friday morning at 5 a.m. after laboratory tests revealed the bridge was safe for travelers.

The westbound lanes crossing the Jefferson Barracks Bridge were closed after crews found 6-foot “critical” cracks in the structure of the bridge during a scheduled inspection Sunday. The cracks were found on parts of the steel beams that connect the arches holding the bridge above the Mississippi River.

Two lanes across the bridge will reopen, leaving room for the necessary repairs to be made while traffic passes over the bridge. After 10 a.m. the bridge will go down to one lane.

“It is good news,” MoDOT St. Louis area Engineer Karen Yeomans said Thursday.

The results from the testing showed the the bridge can safely accommodate traffic as repairs are being made. Those repairs, however, are weather dependent; rain or fog could delay welding of the crack.

Though Yeomans said the bridge will be safe for travel, MoDOT is restricting oversize and overweight loads until the repairs are completed.

The Missouri Department of Transportation reported a “large increase” in the number of vehicles on westbound I-64 across the Poplar Street Bridge and a “slight” increase in traffic on the Stan Musial-Veterans Memorial Bridge this week

Wednesday morning, detoured westbound traffic converged at the I-55/I-70 merge in East St. Louis to create a parking lot to the I-255 exit — nearly 10 miles back, according to Google Maps.

There will still be backups during the morning and non morning rush hours, she added. MoDOT and IDOT are advising drivers to adjust their travel times or leave a bit early if they can.

Yeomans also added that MoDOT and IDOT appreciate both Missouri and Illinois drivers patience.

“We know this has been difficult. We do not take having to close the bridge lightly but with any concerns about safety with the public we felt like we had to close it until we got the test back,” Yeomans said. “We didn’t know if this was a crack that could suddenly worsen and have a really bad situation.”

Illinois Department of Transportation records show that about 66,500 vehicles use the JB Bridge complex each day and 94,700 use the Poplar Street Bridge complex each day.