In less than a month, the westbound span of the Blanchette Bridge will close for a year and traffic will be diverted to the eastbound span of the bridge.
Walsh Contracting Co. has set a closure date of Nov. 4 for the westbound span of the bridge, said Tom Evers, MoDOT area engineer.
"That's the goal and it is weather permitting, but right now that's the schedule," he said.
Monday, Nov. 5 will be the first morning rush hour with both eastbound and westbound traffic on the eastbound span of the Blanchette Bridge. The $62.7 million replacement and repair of the westbound span of the bridge is expected to be completed in a year.
Drivers on Interstate 70 can expect some lane closures during the weekends of Oct. 19-21 and Oct. 26-28 as crews prepare for the switch.
The actual demolition of the steel on the westbound span of the bridge will take place over three different days in mid-November or early December, Evers said. The blasting contractor will have to stop traffic and ensure no one is walking or driving in the blasting zone which will include the Katy Trail, which runs underneath the bridge.
The entire bridge will be closed for about an hour on those days, which have not yet been set. Evers said Ameristar Casino is working with the contractor to discuss what sort of evacuation of the casino parking garage might be needed.
MoDOT and St. Charles have created signage and maps to help motorists find alternate ways into the city.
Interstate 364 and Highway 370 are two other ways to get across the river.
"They are fairly close," Evers said. "They are both roads that are underutilized."
Evers said he's hopeful after the first few weeks people will change their driving habits and choose alternate routes.
"They'll think it's not going to be bad, but if they sit in a back up for 10 minutes, then they'll go another way the next day," he said.
Timeline for Blanchette Bridge Renovation:
Closure of the westbound span of the bridge
- Oct. 19-21: Crews will restripe eastbound I-70 lanes to create six lanes. Several lanes will be closed over the weekend. The eastbound bridge will reopen after the weekend as usual.
- Oct. 26-28: Crews will install a barrier on westbound I-70 at Earth City and half the lanes on westbound I-70 will be closed along with the ramps at Earth City to westbound 70.
- Oct. 29-Nov. 1: Striping crews will work at night.
- Nov. 2-4: Lanes will close in each direction while a barrier wall is installed on the eastbound bridge. Westbound traffic will be merged over to the eastbound bridget.
- Nov. 4: Westbound bridge will close for less than 12 months.
Demolition of the westbound span of the bridge
- November/December: The entire bridge and parts of I-70 will be closed for an hour for bridge blasts on three different days in November and early December.
- Closures could take place during the week day, but not during rush hour.
Bridge rehab work
- Will start in January 2013 and last through fall 2013.