UPDATE: Work on Interstate 270 bridges has been postponed. Click here for more details.
A major section of Kingshighway — one the busiest stretches in the city, connecting south St. Louis to Interstate 44 and Highway 40 (Interstate 64) — is set to close Monday for up to two years, sending tens of thousands of cars a day onto other streets.
That means big changes for commuters, and for businesses near and along the half-mile viaduct that connects Shaw Boulevard and Vandeventer/Southwest avenues.
“It’s all play-it-by-ear to see what happens,” said Leo Shakofsky, owner of Century Tire and Auto Service just north of Southwest Avenue on Kingshighway.
He moved his business there almost two years ago after being near Bevo Mill for 28 years. Customers will be able to access his business via Bischoff Avenue, but he’s considering hiring a porter to pick up the cars of customers who live within a few miles.
“It’s not going to be an easy thing,” Shakofsky said.
Traffic estimates for the bridge, built in 1937, have ranged from 40,000 to 55,000 cars per day. It has long been in disrepair. Saturated with salt, the bridge’s concrete is deteriorating, with chunks breaking off the columns, the city said.
It was reinforced for $65,000 in 2010, with added concrete encasement on several columns to stabilize it until the replacement could be built.
The new bridge will be 90 feet wide with three lanes in each direction. The current bridge is 66 feet wide. The new bridge also will have 6-foot sidewalks on both sides with 8-inch-high curbs, according to the city.
Contractor Kozeny-Wagner Inc. will remove the structure in small sections and haul the debris away.
The total cost of the project is roughly $21 million, which includes design, land acquisition and construction, the city said.
The Federal Highway Administration is covering 80 percent of the costs, with the remaining 20 percent paid for by the Union Pacific Railroad.
The city says traffic signal timing will be adjusted and that lanes will be added to Vandeventer, with turn lanes added to the Vandeventer intersections with McRee Avenue and with Shaw.
Shaw will also see changes. East of Kingshighway, Shaw will move immediately south of O’Connell’s Pub to eliminate the “zigzag” across Kingshighway.
“It’s going to be easier to get to us,” said Fred Parker, the restaurant’s general manager.
Those coming from the north will get a legal left-hand turn, he said, and those coming from the south can take a right on Vandeventer and a left on Shaw to get to the bar famous for its cheeseburgers.
Parker also said the restaurant is gaining 18 parking spots.
Chris Saracino, president of the Hill Business Association and owner of Chris’ Pancakes and Dining, said most people who come from west St. Louis County to the neighborhood known for its Italian restaurants use Kingshighway.
And they’ll still be able to access the neighborhood that way on Shaw, although he suggested exiting Interstates 44 and 64 onto Hampton Avenue, then taking either Wilson Avenue or Columbia Avenue.
Saracino said the Hill did see a business slowdown during Interstate 64 closures, when some out-of-towners didn’t want to mess with alternate routes and navigate unfamiliar areas, and he hopes that doesn’t happen when Kingshighway is shut down.
“Everybody is kind of concerned about the unknown,” Saracino said.
Barnes-Jewish Hospital has readied for the closure, and several routes have been identified for ambulances to get there, the hospital said.
It’s not the first time that longtime south St. Louis residents will navigate such a closure on Kingshighway — the 82-year-old viaduct between Manchester Avenue and McRee Avenue was shut down May 4, 1992, and most of the lanes on the new bridge opened Jan. 18, 1994.
And the closure means changes for Metro bus routes. The No. 95 Kingshighway bus will be rerouted via Chouteau Avenue, Tower Grove Avenue and Magnolia Avenue. No delays are expected, but several stops on Kingshighway between Clayton Avenue and Magnolia Avenue will be cut, Metro said.
The No. 14 Botanical Garden MetroBus will be rerouted via Northrup Avenue to provide access to McRee Avenue.
BRIDGE REPAIRS IN NORTH COUNTY WILL CAUSE DELAYS on I-270
Construction work to shore up two Interstate 270 bridges in north St. Louis County is starting this week, and the Missouri Department of Transportation says motorists should prepare for significant traffic delays.
Crews will be replacing the driving surfaces on the bridges over the intersections of New Florissant Road and New Halls Ferry Road.
While I-270 will remain open during the monthlong construction work, New Florissant and New Halls Ferry will be closed under the interstate, and these locations will have no access to or from eastbound I-270.
The bridges are more than 50 years old and are classified as structurally deficient. The repairs are expected to extend the usable life of the bridges; MoDOT said it intends to replace them if funding becomes available.
MoDOT advises that drivers can expect these interruptions, subject to weather:
Tuesday, July 7: Pershall Road (the one-way outer road from New Halls Ferry Road to the Home Depot entrance) will close at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, July 8: Eastbound I-270 on- and off-ramps at New Florissant Road will close at 8 p.m. Also New Florissant Road under I-270 from Dunn Road to Jean Drive will close at 11 p.m.
Thursday, July 9: Eastbound I-270 off-ramp to New Halls Ferry will close at 8 p.m. New Halls Ferry Road under I-270 from Dunn Road to Pershall Road will close at 11 p.m.
Friday, July 10: Eastbound I-270 lanes will be reduced to two through lanes and routed down and back up the interchange ramps at New Florissant Road and New Halls Ferry Road after 8 p.m.
Saturday, July 11: Westbound I-270 lanes will shift onto eastbound bridge at New Florissant Road and New Halls Ferry Road after 8 p.m.
Beginning Monday, July 13, all closures will be in place, and MoDOT says motorists should expect substantial backups on I-270 during construction, with average delays of 30 minutes or more.