MoDOT has suspended construction of the eastbound I-44 bridge over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, near Shrewsbury until next spring due to concerns with the expected durability of the bridge.
During on-going monitoring of the bridge project, inspectors noticed greater than usual cracking on the westbound bridge. These cracks, about the width of a credit card, may allow water and salt to get through the driving surface, which could reduce the life-span of the bridge.
“The bridge is safe, but we want to make sure that Missouri taxpayers get the best product for their infrastructure dollars. Since the design and construction of the eastbound bridge is the same as the westbound bridge, we want to make sure we determine the cause and potential impact of the cracking on the westbound bridge before we construct the deck on the eastbound bridge,” said Tom Blair, MoDOT St. Louis District Engineer.
Due to the urgency of the situation the department has hired a third-party consultant to review the material, procedures and design of the bridge project. This detailed analysis may take several months.
“We want to get this done as quickly as possible, but also want to make sure we determine the correct cause and appropriate fix. Once the detailed analysis is complete, we will determine our course of action, and will work as quickly as we can to get the eastbound interstate bridge open to traffic. We understand the impacts this will have though winter and apologize for them,” said Blair.
Since construction is suspended, the work zones on I-44 between Shrewsbury and Jamieson, as well as the ramp closure from Shrewsbury to eastbound I-44 will remain in place until construction is complete. Crews will shift traffic on eastbound I-44 slightly to ease the crossover between the eastbound and westbound lanes and will close westbound I-44 for a weekend to seal the bridge deck to minimize any impact due to winter temperatures and salt.
Weather permitting, crews will close all westbound lanes of I-44 between Hampton and Shrewsbury at 8 p.m. Friday, November 16. They will also close all but one eastbound lane at Shrewsbury at 8 p.m. Friday, November 16. In addition, drivers will not be able to get on or off westbound I-44 at Hampton, Southwest, Arsenal, Jamieson or Shrewsbury starting at about 7 p.m. Friday, November 16. All lanes and ramps should be reopen by 6 a.m. Monday, November 19 for morning rush.