Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sometimes I just need to vent!

St. Louis is an urban area split in two by a major river (the Mississippi). That means to get from one side to another you have to use a bridge.

There are seven bridges that were built to carry traffic from Illinois into metro St. Louis. The Poplar Street Bridge, of which I have so many times whined about before, carries I-70/64/55/44 and US40. It is being repaved, meaning two of the four lanes in each direction are closed most of the time (they open three lanes during rush hour). As I write this, it is after 1:00 AM. The image below is from traffic.com -- you can see that the bridge is backed up even at this hour because of the construction.
Another bridge directly into downtown St. Louis is the M.L. King Bridge, which is open, but not directly tied into the Interstate Highways on the Missouri side. The Missouri end is a maze of traffic signals.

The MacArthur Bridge is a little south of downtown, but Union Pacific now owns it and is removing the traffic level.

The McKinnley Bridge is a little north of downtown, but it is closed for rebuilding (good idea, you could see the river below you as you drove across).

The Jefferson Barracks Bridge is far south of downtown, it carries I-255, part of the Interstate loop around St. Louis. They are repaving it, so one or two lanes (out of three) westbound are closed.

The Chain of Rocks Bridge (used for the escape from New York in the movie Escape from New York) is far north of downtown, it carries I-270, the other part of the Interstate loop around St. Louis. All three lanes in each direction are open, although Missouri is paving the highway west of the bridge.

That leaves historic Eads Bridge (pictured above) which connects downtown St. Louis with downtown East St. Louis. They spent years and years rebuilding it so it could draw some of the traffic from the overcrowded Poplar and King Bridges.

So:
one bridge no longer carries vehicles;
one bridge is closed completely;
two bridges have major lanes closures.

Oops!

It's St. Louis!

Let's do the stupidest thing possible!

Eads Bridges will be closed Saturday (today) through the 4th so people can eat on it.

That's right! Of the two bridges that are fully functional and lead directly to downtown St. Louis, they are going to close one. On purpose. Over a holiday weekend. With Fair St. Louis on the Arch Grounds and the Cardinals at Busch.

Traffic should be backed up to Tulsa and Indianapolis.

7 comments:

siren said...

Oh Jim, don't even get me started with the bridges. I cross the Chain of Rocks on a daily basis..which is two lanes! If there is an accident (which there always is), traffic backs up to 111. I'd be more than willing to pay a toll if they would build another bridge :)
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I need to correct the post, I worded it wrong. The "Escape from New York" bridge is the old Chain of Rocks Bridge just south of the Interstate bridge. It has a kink in it because it is built on a natural rock formation called, well, you know (photo below). The present chain of rocks that hold back the river and create the cascade consists of rocks that the Corp of Engineers put there. The old bridge now serves as a hike & bike trail and as a site for grisly murders. So there are actually eight bridges, nine if you count the Clark Bridge at Alton -- Missouri, of course, is repaving the Lewis Bridge across the Missouri River which you need to cross to get to the Clark Bridge.

What Siren refers to is a terrible bottleneck the two states have created -- I-270 is three lanes in each direction in both states but goes back to two lanes as you get near the river. That alone would back up traffic, especially at rush hour. Making matter worse, however, Illinois has on-ramps for Routes 111, 203, and 3 in its two lane stretch. I-255 also feeds in traffic. In Missouri's two-lane section before the river, traffic is added from Bellefontaine Road, Lilac, and Riverview. The on-ramp for Riverview is short, extends onto the bridge itself, and carries lots of truck traffic from the Hall Street industrial area.

The "toll" reference is to the proposed new I-70 bridge to downtown St. Louis. Illinois has the money and is ready to build. Missouri wants it to be a toll bridge. My guess is that it's just a silly game to keep from actually spending the allocated federal share -- a ploy used to make the federal deficit look smaller.

The Google image below shows the I-270 bridge, the old Chain of Rocks Bridge with its kink, and the cascade. The darker water on the left/west side of the river is from the Missouri River.

moni said...

I can certainly understand how this would be stressful. Can you go south or north to avoid St. Louis altogether. Well, not if you want to GO to St. Louis. Looks as if the CofC would get involved. Forget bridges, build tunnels, lol. Kind of reminds me of why I love living in a small town, no bridges of any kind.
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road construction creates jobs, it is the single best way to keep the economy growing and employment high -- I assume that is why they are knocking down road bridges to rebuild identical bridges.

actually tunnels and bridges cost about the same to build and operate, the disadvantage of tunnels is fire (which can easily destroy one, that's why they line them with tiles).

my small town had maybe five traffic lights when I moved here, now there must be 30 -- not sure why so many people want to live close to me!!!!!

Willow said...

Yep, that's why I refuse to drive on the highway. Although my beloved Lindbergh Blvd has been much the same for the past few months, especially at night you never know when almost all lanes will be closed down and traffic at 9 p.m. backs up enough that it looks like rush hour.
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Note: Lindbergh is the origional 1920-30's loop around St. Louis, built far out in the county mostly to carry Routes 66 and 50.

My favorite thing about Lindbergh is the loopy things you have to do to make a left turn. There is no bridge at the intersection below, or at others along Lindbergh like it. You have to exit right, then make a left turn, then wait for the signal.

Bruce said...

Just having ridden in a couple of taxis and in a couple of friends' cars makes me glad I don't live in the area, to be honest. I get all white-knucklely just from dealing with the rush hour traffic in my little(if you can call 77,000+ little) burg.

Webpirate said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Webpirate said...

Ummm, I am shocked that you have no clue as to why we are and will continue to make the bridges that cross into the state of Illinois as uninviting and impossible as we can for Illinoians to cross, we simply don't want you here. You can
>>>>Click here<<<<
for more reasons why.
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Fatality Rate per 100M Vehicles Miles Traveled: IL=1.24 US=1.44 MO=1.64

Fatality Rate per 100K State Population: IL=10.67 US=14.52 MO=19.64

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Amy in StL said...

Traffic leaving the city Friday was such a ClusterF***! My normal 25 minute commute to da'hood was almost an hour and a half.
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that's what prompted the post -- I needed to get to 44 westbound but there was only one lane open on the JB Bridge and Poplar Street was dead stopped, so I had to take 270 all the way around -- it was heavy going, and then creeping along past Manchester Rd -- Eureka is such a pathetic mess that the construction delays have their own website with cameras and timers:

http://www.i44eureka.com/ <==for some reason, the interactive triangles, circles, and squares are not appearing on the map today (Monday) -- MODOT might have it shut down for the holiday