The Missouri Department of Transportation is urging drivers to avoid the area around the Poplar Street Bridge this weekend because portions of Interstates 44 and 55 will be closed downtown.
From Friday at 8 p.m. to Monday at 5 a.m., lanes in both directions will be closed from 7th and Park to the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge. One ramp off eastbound I-44 near the Old Cathedral downtown will stay closed until January 21.
MoDOT engineer Deanna Venker says the closures will allow crews to remove the I-44 ramp to the Poplar Street Bridge. That ramp from the downtown depressed lanes eastbound to the bridge will be permanently closed.
"Once we remove that ramp, it will give us room to rebuild from the Poplar Street Bridge to I-55 southbound to make that two lanes wide, which will help congestion all during the evening rush hour and morning rush hour as they are proceeding into Missouri," she said.
Venker said detours through downtown include using Tucker or Broadway. MoDOT recommends the following routes:
- From eastbound I-70 to eastbound I-64, use the Tucker ramp (Exit 249B) and take Tucker, turn left on Chouteau and turn right on 6th Street toward the I-64 EB on ramp at 6th Street.
- From eastbound I-70 to southbound I-55, drivers should use the Tucker ramp (Exit 249B) and take Tucker through the city and stay on Gravois to get to southbound I-55.
- From eastbound I-70 to westbound I-44, use the Tucker ramp (Exit 249B) and take Tucker through the city, turn right on Lafayette and take the ramp to westbound I-44.
- Drivers on eastbound I-70 heading to Illinois should use the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge.
- From northbound I-55 to eastbound I-64, take Gravois (Exit 207A) until it becomes Tucker, turn right on Chouteau and left on 6th Street to get on eastbound I-64 at the 6th Street ramp.
- From northbound I-55 to eastbound 70, take Gravois (Exit 207A) until it becomes Tucker, follow Tucker to I-70 eastbound and use the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge.
- From northbound I-55 to westbound I-70, take Gravois (Exit 207A) until it becomes Tucker, turn right on Cass, turn left on Broadway and turn left at North Market. Turn right to get onto the westbound I-70 ramp at 10th Street.
- From eastbound I-44 to eastbound I-64, drivers can exit at Park and 7th (Exit 290C), turn right on Park then left on Broadway. Then turn left at the signal at Chouteau, followed by a right on 6th Street to access eastbound I-64.
- From eastbound I-44 to I-70, drivers can exit at Park and 7th (Exit 290C), turn right on Park then left on Broadway. Drivers will continue on 4th Street to Convention Plaza and cross under I-44 and enter onto I-70 in either the east or west direction.
Alternatively, Venker suggests avoiding the area entirely using the 255-270 loop.
"This interchange happens to be the pinch point where all the interstates come together, so we've got ways to get you through there, but if you don't have to come through this point and you know other ways to get to where you're going, I advise you to use them," she said.
The construction, which Venker said is weather-dependent, is part of a bigger project to reduce congestion around the Poplar Street Bridge by adding lanes to on- and off-ramps. The project is expected to be completed by 2017.