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First Day Of Blanchette Bridge Closure Goes Smoothly

(St. Louis Public Radio photo)

This morning marked the first rush hour since all westbound lanes of the Blanchette Bridge were closed late yesterday afternoon for a year-long construction project.

Interstate 70 has been reduced from 10 to six lanes of traffic at the bridge. Three lanes of traffic in each direction now flow on the eastbound side of the bridge and will continue to do so until fall 2013. The ramp from northbound Fifth Street to eastbound I-70 will also be closed while the westbound section of the bridge, which is over 50 years old, undergoes a $63 million rehabilitation.

Ed Hassinger is the District Engineer for MoDOT in St. Louis. He says drivers experienced few holdups this morning, but that isn’t necessarily an indicator of every rush hour to come.

"Yes, we’re happy with what happened this morning, but don’t get too comfortable yet, because you need to keep your eye on the ball," Hassinger said. "And we’ll continue to give you information rush hour by rush hour so people can adjust."

MoDOT officials saw motorists use their suggested detours, Routes 370 and 364, this morning in addition to I-70. Hassinger says he believes this is why major backups were avoided.

"Everything went really smoothly this morning, actually," Hassinger said. "People listened to us. They moved to 370 and to Page Avenue and changed their timing. It was very obvious that the biggest move was to Page Avenue."

Some backups occurred on eastbound Route 364 at the exits for Route 141 and I-270 and at the stoplight at Page and Schuetz. Hessinger says that light will be adjusted by tomorrow morning to help traffic flow during peak hours.

Follow Tina Eaton on Twitter: @kristinaeaton

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