Improvements to Muegge Road at Old Highway 94 will help move traffic when the westbound Blanchette Bridge is shut down for renovation.
But the work on Muegge Roadwill benefit drivers even after the bridge reopens.
There actually are two separate projects—one by the city of St. Charles and the other by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).
The city's contract includes creation of a new right turn lane from Old Highway 94 to northbound Muegge and improvements on the east side of the intersection.
MoDOT's project includes widening Muegge one lane in each direction and connecting two lanes in each direction to the Page Avenue ramp crossing Old Highway 94.
in June, MoDOT awarded a $433,000 contract to N. B. West Contracting for the state's project. Work will begin July 11 with completion by the end of the year.
St. Charles opened bids Tuesday for its project but has not yet awarded a contract, said Rick Lewis, the city’s senior traffic project manager.
Work on that project is scheduled to begin Aug. 1 with completion by the end of 2011, he said.
“What we have out there now is a shared lane, which is for left turns and through traffic, and then we have exclusive right turn lane,” Lewis said. “What we want to do is create an additional lane so that we’ll have an exclusive right turn lane, an exclusive through lane and an exclusive left turn lane for westbound Old Highway 94 approaching Muegge Road.
“When we do that, we can take our traffic signals and instead of having split phasing on Old 94, we can go back to a fully eight-phase intersection which will reduce delay time for all traffic movements there. Then with the additional lanes on Muegge Road done by MoDOT, we’ll have increased capacity in anticipation of additional traffic volumes as a result of the Blanchette Bridge closure.”
MoDOT plans to go out for bids in October for renovation of the westbound bridge. When the contract is awarded in November, the contractor will announce its schedule for lane closures, Linda Wilson, MoDOT spokeswoman said.
Work will begin on the estimated $60-million project in January 2012 with completion by Dec. 31, 2013. During that two-year period, the contractor can close the westbound bridge for one year and put all of the traffic on the eastbound bridge, Wilson said. The eastbound bridge will carry three lanes of traffic in each direction, she said.
As MoDOT began planning the bridge project, officials sat down with St. Charles and St. Charles County officials to discuss how best to handle the increased traffic on alternate routes when lanes are reduced on I-70, she said.
In assessing where traffic would go, officials decided Muegge would be one of the major streets to experience increased congestion, Wilson said.
“Muegge connects basically from the I-70 and Cave Springs interchange right down to Page Avenue. It can serve as a good alternate and it’s already pretty heavily congested during morning and evening rush hours," Wilson said.
She said increased traffic from the bridge closure would make Muegge Road much worse because traffic already backs up in the morning coming up to the light on Old Highway 94.
"That was really going to balloon into something horrible with the bridge project,” Wilson said.
Officials decided widening Muegge would help.
Currently motorists on Muegge headed toward the Page Avenue ramp have only one lane that goes across the intersection and onto the ramp to Page.
“When we’re done, both lanes of Muegge will go straight across and let you go onto Page Avenue,” Wilson said. “And it’ll be the same coming home in the evening. The ramp from Page Avenue will have two lanes at the intersection with Old 94, and both of those lanes will be able to go straight across and continue down Muegge Road.”
Just as the closure of I-64/Highway 40 was painful for motorists, the Blanchette Bridge project will bring its challenges. But the Muegge project is good news for motorists who will use Muegge after the bridge work is done.
“The project we’re building this summer and fall is actually going to be permanent,” Wilson said. “It’s not like it’s just something temporary we’re doing and when the project’s over we’re going to put it back. “