City readies for bridge replacement near Grand and 40

This is great news for our area.  While it may be a hassle for over a year, the end result will be a signature bridge which will enhance our area.  With the South Grand and Manchester Avenue street scape improvements underway, we are surrounded by projects which will help draw new residents, new businesses and improve our overall living experience.  See below. From the Post: 

It may have served the city well for the last 60 years, but the Grand Boulevard viaduct bridge is past its expiration date.

Its replacement is coming early next year.

"The planning process for replacing this bridge has been going on for more than 20 years," said Rich Bradley, New bridge will mimic old president of the St. Louis Board of Public Service.

Finding money to replace the bridge, which spans railroad tracks and MetroLink lines from I-64 to Chouteau Avenue, has been the problem.

The city solved that problem by having the federal government assume 80 percent of the $25 to $27 million tab.

Replacement of the bridge is scheduled to begin around late February, with a construction bid to be awarded this week.

The existing bridge has numerous deficiencies.

It's not structurally prepared to handle an earthquake, it lacks adequate sidewalks for the disabled and, with a 1959 birthdate, it's simply worn out.

But, as motorists can attest, perhaps its most glaring shortcoming is its tendency to jam up traffic.

The six-lane bridge is positioned alongside a bus stop and above a MetroLink station.

The bus route that runs over the bridge, the 70 Grand, is the busiest in the city, according to Metro St. Louis officials.

Bradley said construction of a new bridge will provide much needed traffic flow relief.

The project is expected to take 15 months to complete, though some areas will open to traffic earlier.

The primary detour route will run along Compton Avenue. Motorists can also travel on Vandeventer and Jefferson Avenues.

The new bridge will only have four lanes, but it will be 16 feet wider.

More importantly, it will allow buses to pull out of traffic.

The bridge will also have greatly expanded sidewalks, going from 4 to 13 feet. A median, 9 feet wide, will also be built.

"A lot of pedestrians cross mid-block and there are safety problems," Bradley said. "The median will prevent this."

The new bridge will also help accommodate a projected jump in traffic from 30,000 cars daily to 34,000 cars daily over the next two decades.

While the bridge project moves along, Metro St. Louis will begin a $7 million project to redesign the Grand Avenue MetroLink station, which sits just below the bridge.

Metro's timeline will parallel the city's.

Jessica Mefford-Miller, chief of planning and system development, said the new design would offer numerous amenities.

"There will be new stair and elevator structures and a new transit plaza on Scott Avenue," she said. "We're going to integrate art and lighting. It will be aesthetically appealing."

Aesthetics are a big part of both projects.

Bradley said the new bridge is meant to be an eye-catching, signature style bridge.

Four towers, each 57 feet high and made from brick and steel, will sit at the four corners of the bridge.

"It will be reminiscent of the original bridge built in 1890," Bradley said.

The bridge was designed by HDR, Inc. of St. Louis.

For business owners in the area, the upgrade in aesthetics and functionality comes at a cost — more than a year of detours.

Bradley said the city been working closely with St. Louis University, Grand Center and numerous other business owners.

Clayton Berry, St. Louis University spokesman, said the school would enhance shuttle service, relocate classes and urge students to allow for extra time between classes during construction.

Bradley emphasized that I-64 and Grand Boulevard highway ramps will remain open for the duration of the project.