MoDOT Closing I-44 at Big Bend This Weekend for Bridge Replacement

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By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE

MoDOT will close all lanes in both directions by 11pm this Friday, July 8 on Interstate 44 near Crestwood and Kirkwood to place girders and panels on the Big Bend Bridge as part of that $6 million replacement project.

Eureka-based Gershenson Construction Company is the general contractor performing the design-bid-build project, which is replacing the highway bridge originally built in 1967. Burns & McDonnell headed the design team with ABNA Engineering as a subcontractor.

MoDOT Resident Engineer Scott Washausen said construction began in February 2022 and is expected to complete by late October. MoDOT anticipates that the bridge will be open to traffic in late August.

“Traffic this weekend will be routed up and over the ramps,” said Washausen. “We plan to reopen three of the four lanes in each direction on I-44 by 5 a.m. on Monday, July 11. One lane in each direction will remain closed through August, as will Big Bend Boulevard over the interstate. This 55-year-old bridge is in poor condition and reaching the end of its useful life.”

Rebuilding the Big Bend Bridge allows MoDOT to raise the structure to interstate standards, according to Washausen, hopefully reducing the number of times that the bridge is struck. The replacement also allows MoDOT to bring the barrier walls and sidewalks along the bridge up to current design standards.

“We’re widening the bridge slightly to accommodate the new, updated sidewalks to meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements,” he said. “We’re adding extra left-turn lanes on the ramps from eastbound and westbound I-44. The bicycle lanes will remain the same width, but the new, wider bridge will allow for five-foot shoulder spacing to make it easier for cyclists and drivers to share the lane.”

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