Grand bridge to reopen to traffic later than planned

2012-06-17T00:15:00Z 2012-07-23T14:34:39Z Grand bridge to reopen to traffic later than plannedALONG FOR THE RIDE • ride@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8215 stltoday.com

St. Louis has pushed back reopening the Grand Boulevard bridge over the railroad tracks south of Highway 40 for several weeks.

Originally slated to reopen in May, the span is now scheduled to begin carrying traffic on July 14, said St. Louis Streets Director Todd Waelterman.

Reader Mike Welling, who works in the area and used the bridge on a daily basis, wrote Ride last week seeking an update about when the Bridge would reopen.

“The intersection at Compton and Spruce is just awful when there is no traffic and a thousand times worse during rush hour,” he wrote.

The old six-lane bridge had narrow sidewalks and often became clogged with traffic — especially when Metro buses stopped to pick up riders. The bridge was not built to withstand a major earthquake either.

The new span features two lanes in each direction and a decorative planter in the middle of the street to improve the overall look and deter jaywalkers. It will have 13-foot-wide sidewalks and turnout lanes for buses on Metro’s busiest line.

The bridge also features four decorative towers made of brick and steel.

Waelterman said building those steel towers would have required some unpopular lane closures. Because traffic flows are usually fairly light during the summer, the city decided to postpone the reopening until the towers are in place.

Waelterman added: “The detour routes are working pretty well.”

St. Louis and Metro collectively spent $29 million on the Grand bridge and the MetroLink station beneath it. The new light-rail station will feature an open plaza area on Scott Avenue that is expected to be well-lit at night.

Meantime, the ramps connecting Grand Boulevard to Highway 40 (Interstate 64) remained open throughout the bridge construction.

The Scott Transit Plaza at the Grand MetroLink station is expected to be completed in August, said Metro spokeswoman Patti Beck. Metro is coordinating its work with the city.

The new transit plaza will feature seating, a new park-and-ride lot, improved lighting, and new fencing and landscaping. The elevators and stairwells from Grand to the station also are being replaced.

NEW LAMBERT DETOUR

Arriving passengers at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport’s Terminal 1 will have to go through the hourly parking garage to catch certain ground transportation shuttles.

Work is continuing on Bag Claim Drive along the terminal’s lower level and pedestrians aren’t allowed to cross in the work area.

So arriving passengers will be directed into the garage from the baggage claim level, take an elevator to the Green Level (Level 3) and use the cross walk to reach the shuttle pickup zones.

Motorists picking up passengers can do so inside the garage on the Yellow Level. Motorists picking up passengers will have a 15-minute free grace period once inside the garage.

Q. Every day I drive past the Interstate 70/Cypress Road interchange and every day I’m more perplexed about the wooden structure being built there. Any idea what it is? You’ll make a lot of people happy if you can solve the mystery for us!

— Karen Aman, Bridgeton

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District is building a “wet weather storage facility tank” in St. Ann, just southeast of the Interstate 70 /Cypress interchange. The 6 million-gallon storage tank is designed to alleviate overloaded sewers. It is one of a handful of similar tanks popping up around the St. Louis area, said MSD spokesman Lance LeComb.

Q. Several months ago construction on the Jefferson Avenue exit from eastbound Highway 40 was completed. By completed I mean the trucks and equipment left. The exit has been left in shambles with black plastic on stakes still standing, broken curbs, no re-grading or re-seeding, and now a lot of weeds (some 2 feet tall). A “steel plate in roadway” sign has been on this exit for about two years now. It generally looks terrible. Can you embarrass someone into fixing this eyesore?

— Joe McCarthy

What you see at Jefferson is the aftermath of some relocation in advance of next year’s Jefferson bridge replacement, said Deanna Venker, MoDOT’s area engineer for St. Louis city. The state will ask the utility to return and spruce up the area. The black material on stakes are small fences designed to catch silt runoff. The grass area is on the same mowing cycle as the rest of Highway 40, Venker said. And curbs will be repaired. The plate is covering a collapsed drain, which also will be repaired as part of the Jefferson bridge work. Meantime, Venker said, MoDOT will begin work on the Jefferson project in December or January.

Ken Leiser covers transportation and aviation for the Post-Dispatch. He blogs on Along for the Ride. On Twitter, follow him @kenleiser and the Business section @postdispatchbiz.

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