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Two westbound lanes of the Jefferson Barracks Bridge across the Mississippi River reopened in time for Friday morning's rush hour.

The lanes will remain open on weekday mornings while repairs to the span are completed. 

Officials will reduce the bridge to one lane of westbound traffic at 10 a.m. Friday and probably keep it that way through the weekend. By Monday morning's rush hour, they expect to reopen two lanes for westbound traffic.

The westbound span of the bridge was closed Sunday after Missouri Department of Transportation inspectors found cracks in steel beams during a routine check.

On Wednesday, officials said they were waiting on lab tests on a cracked portion of the bridge before determining when — or if — the bridge could be reopened. The department received the test results Thursday.

Officials now say the bridge will undergo repairs while two westbound lanes are reopened to traffic. Officials expect to keep the lanes open between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. on weekdays beginning Friday. One lane will remain open the rest of the time.

Oversize and overweight loads won’t be able to use the bridge until the repairs are completed.

Reopening of the lanes is likely to ease traffic congestion along routes to alternative bridges across the Mississippi River.

Both Missouri and Illinois transportation officials had encouraged motorists to use public transportation or take alternative driving routes after the bridge closed, but the pace of traffic on those routes remained a challenge.

MoDOT officials said Wednesday that the department is awarding an emergency contract to a private company to help make needed repairs. Two private companies have been working with officials from Missouri and Illinois’ transportation departments on the bridge inspection and repairs.

Workers have also put a new seal on the westbound span’s driving surface since the bridge’s closure Sunday.

About 60,000 vehicles a day typically use the bridge, MoDOT says, with about half driving westward.

MoDOT officials say emergency work was last done in 2011 on both the bridge’s westbound and eastbound spans. That included repairing or replacing some vertical support cables and replacing lateral bracing underneath the driving deck.

Reporter covering breaking news and crime by night. Born in Algeria but grew up in St. Louis. Previously reported for The Associated Press in Jackson, Mississippi and at the Wichita Eagle in Wichita, Kansas.

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