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September 27, 2012

Eads Bridge Lane Closures Go Into Effect on October 1

Dianne Williams
Director of Communications

The City of St. Louis and Metro Transit, co-owners of the Eads Bridge, announced lane closures will go into effect on the vehicle deck of the Eads Bridge beginning Monday, Oct. 1, 2012. The vehicle deck on the bridge currently serves two lanes of traffic in each direction. Starting October 1, lane restrictions on the Eads Bridge will allow one lane of traffic in each direction. Motorists should allow extra time for their commutes over the Eads Bridge or consider alternative routes such as the Martin Luther King Bridge or the Poplar Street Bridge.

The lane closures are necessary to accommodate extensive work by Metro to rehabilitate the support structure of the 138-year-old Eads Bridge. The work is needed to protect this national landmark and upgrade an important piece of the region’s $1.8 billion transit infrastructure so it can continue to serve future generations.

The Eads Bridge, designed by James Buchanan Eads, was completed in 1874 and was the first steel structure bridge project in the United States. Now, after more than a century of use, it is in need of major repairs and a significant facelift. This structural rehabilitation project will replace support steel that dates back to the 1880’s. As many as nine layers of paint and rust will be blasted off the bridge down to the bare metal, and then the bridge will be primed with a rust inhibitor, before the protective top coating is applied. Combined with regular painting, the anti-corrosion coating system should extend the life of the bridge another 50 years. After enduring trains crossing the bridge nearly 300 times daily and exposure to the elements for almost two decades, the MetroLink alignment that crosses the bridge will also be upgraded with new rail and ties as part of this comprehensive project.

The Eads Bridge was state of the art in two ways when it was built: by allowing steamboat commerce to continue on the Mississippi River during bridge construction and by the use of steel, which at the time was a new structural metal. “They broke new ground when they began building this bridge almost a century and half ago, and we anticipate there will be unknowns as we address the rehabilitation of this unique historic landmark,” said John Nations, Metro President & CEO. “We’re confident we have a great team in place and we’re prepared to meet those challenges as we extend the life of the structure for another half a century.”

The City of St. Louis owns the vehicle deck of the bridge while Metro owns and maintains the rail deck and remaining bridge structure. Metro is committed to completing all of bridge rehabilitation work by the fall of 2015.

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