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Grand Blvd. viaduct to open to traffic about 30 days later than planned

(via Twitter/St. Louis Board of Public Service)
The Feb. 15, 2012 photo shows the progress of construction on the new Grand Ave. viaduct in Midtown. It's expected to open to traffic about a month late because of construction delays.

St. Louis city officials say the new viaduct that will carry Grand Blvd. over the railroad tracks in Midtown won't open to limited travel until the middle of June.

Crews had been hoping to open one lane of traffic in each direction by mid-May, says city Board of Public Service president Rich Bradley. But construction crews encountered poor soil conditions and a water line when they began digging.

"You dig in the ground in the Mill Creek Valley there, you can find just about anything," Bradley said.

Bradley says the contractors are working an accelerated schedule to try and shrink that delay to about 15 days, which would get traffic moving across the bridge by the end of May.

"There are some acceleration costs that are involved in this," Bradley said, "But when we look at the impact upon the businesses, when we look at the impact upon the motorists, it's certainly worth those minimal costs to get this project completed."

Bradley says the effort has been helped tremendously by the mild winter and lack of precipitation.

"We could probably be as far as 60 days behind schedule at this point in time," he said. "We really haven't had a lot of down time. We've worked continuously from the time we started the project until now."

The entire viaduct project - including new bike lanes and sidewalks, plus an upgraded MetroLink station - won't be finished until the end of the year.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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