Delay, delay, more construction delays.
The Martin Luther King Bridge will remain closed another year, an Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman says.
A construction project has closed all lanes of the Martin Luther King Bridge since August 2018. Originally, planners said the bridge would reopen this fall.
Now, officials say, the work won’t wrap up until the summer of 2020. Flooding woes in the Midwest meant more trains were diverted to tracks under the bridge, which slowed the project.
Construction work is on the Illinois side. The closure is needed to demolish and replace a smaller span on a road leading to the bridge from Interstate 55/64 in East St. Louis.
For motorists bound for downtown St. Louis from Illinois — or vice versa — it’s not welcome news. Alternate routes include the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge. Officials also recommend carpooling or using public transportation.
Guy Tridgell, director of communications at the Illinois Department of Transportation, confirmed the reopening delay in an email to a Post-Dispatch reporter.
“The bridge is not reopening this fall as anticipated due to widespread flooding throughout the Midwest that impacted train routes,” Tridgell said. “These trains were rerouted through our project, preventing us from being able to safely remove a section of the existing bridge over their tracks.”
Tridgell said train traffic has returned to near-normal levels now. With that, he said, “we have progressed with the removal of the existing bridge.”
However, he added, “this project is now anticipated to be completed in the summer of 2020.”
The span to be replaced carries traffic over I-55/64, Missouri Avenue and two railroads. When the project was announced, its price tag was expected to be more than $24 million.
Tridgell said he expects the price to be higher, but he doesn’t know the new price yet. “With train traffic still normalizing and the construction schedule getting finalized, (we) don’t have a final cost calculated yet, but we do anticipate it being more than what was initially projected,” he said.