To support planning of a potential bridge upgrade, the Missouri Department of Transportation Southeast District selected CH2M to provide an Environmental Assessment (EA) to provide a safe and reliable Route 51 Mississippi River crossing. This selection builds on CH2M’s more than 20-year position as the go-to consultant for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) work in Missouri.
The Route 51 Bridge, originally constructed in 1942, and re-constructed in 1944 after a severe storm destroyed the main span, is a continuous truss bridge eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and listed as functionally obsolete, or no longer adequate due to outdated design.
CH2M will support the first steps to evaluate options to provide a safe, reliable Mississippi River crossing. The EA will bring together engineering and environmental considerations focusing on general location, mode choice, known environmental and cultural resource constraints, area-wide quality and land use implications. The EA process will determine if there are significant impacts to the proposed options, including replacing the existing bridge.
“While MoDOT begins looking at upgrades to the aging Route 51 Bridge infrastructure, taking traffic, tourism, seismic activity and environmental needs into consideration will be vital,” said CH2M Global Highways and Bridges Practice Director, Bryan Nicol. “The work our team is conducting today will ensure design of a safe crossing and continued economic vitality for communities on both sides of the Mississippi River.”
The bridge, used by more than 6,500 vehicles per day, functions as the sole river crossing for vehicle traffic between Perry County, Missouri and Chester, Illinois. An attraction as much as it is a transportation asset, the bridge serves employees of local businesses, including Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation and the Menard Correctional Center, school buses from the Chester Community School District, farm equipment and visitors to historic Chester – the birthplace of the popular Popeye cartoon.
“We have a long, successful history of working with MoDOT on its most important and challenging projects and look forward to the opportunity to build on this relationship with the Chester Bridge Environmental Assessment,” said Buddy Desai, CH2M vice president and project manager for the EA.