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Q & A: Business Owners Ask Questions About Blanchette Bridge Lane Closure

MoDOT Area Engineer Tom Evers met with local residents and business leaders to answer questions about how the closure may impact them.

Walsh Construction Co. is expected to close the westbound span of the Blanchette Bridge starting in November 2012 as part of a major rehabilitation project. The steel truss will be replaced in this $63 million project that's expected to last two years total.

Soon after the westbound span is closed, westbound traffic will be diverted onto the eastbound bridge. The bridge will be re-striped into three, 10-foot-wide lanes in each direction.

After crossing the river, traffic will be diverted back to westbound I-70.

in to discuss the impact the detour might have on local businesses. 

Community members asked questions during the event, some of which have been included below. Questions came from audience members and MoDOT Area Engineer Tom Evers answered the questions.

Q: Are there going to be times during the demolition phase when Interstate 70 will be shut down? Will that have an impact on businesses?

A: We will need to close I-70 when we demo the bridge. The steel truss over the river, the contractor is planning on blasting that into the river. We're going to have to close or shut down—we can't have traffic going on, it's not safe. We don't know exactly the time. We'll try to pick a time that is least intrusive. It should last 30-45 minutes. For that time period, it could be impactful. It may bring out people who are curious that want to see what's going on. 

Q: Will Ameristar have to be empty or vacant during the demo? 

A: We don't know that at this time. (The contractor) will have to produce a plan of what needs to be evacuated for how long. The proximity of the parking garage, it could be impacted, we just don't know to what extent. 

Q: What's the status of the Page Extension?

A: It's being constructed from Harvester out to Mid Rivers Mall Drive. They are ahead of their schedule. The past mild winter, they were able to get a lot of work done. We're hoping to be able to open that segment of 364 in August or September to get that opened. I think the benefit there is between the 141 project and the Page Avenue Extension project will make that route more attractive to use. 

Q: How will steel delivery and concrete impact traffic during the construction?

A: Deliveries are going to happen sporadically throughout the project. Some of it may come in on a barge on the river. A lot of items they are restricted to running at certain times of day and night. 

Q: What is the consideration for having emergency response people stationed at either end of the bridge so they can clear up the bridge quickly if there is a fender bender?

A: We have had regular meetings with EMTs on both sides of the river. We'll have motorist assist vehicles that will be dedicated to this project, and responsible for nothing else but this bridge. Our emergency responders are right now putting together a plan at this point who is going to respond first if there is an incident. We have cameras at either end of the bridge that monitor traffic every day. 

Q: Given that our community is at risk of experiencing an earthquake, what level of earthquake can these withstand?

A: We are maintaining the earthquake components of the bridge. It had been retrofitted in the past and there has been work done to maintain it. I don't know the answer to what kind of earthquake it could take. 

Q: Are you going to put a lot of construction ahead signs coming from both east and west directions?

A: We'll have signs as far west and we'll have signs in South St. Louis County. We'll have signing in Illinois. We'll have static signs, black on orange scattered throughout the region. We also have digital message boards along the highway. 

Do you have a question about the Blanchette Bridge construction and detour? Leave it in a comment below and we'll track down the answer. 

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