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First day of Hampton closure runs smoothly

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(KWMU photo)
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Barricades block off Hampton Ave. across Highway 40.

By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Transportation officials say there were no major traffic problems Monday morning, the first commute without the Hampton Avenue overpass at I-64.

The Hampton bridge will be demolished this weekend. Construction on the new interchange is expected to take eight months.

Traffic was heavier on alternate routes like McCausland and Kingshighway, but the Missouri Department of Transportation says the additional cars didn't affect travel time.

St. Louis City streets director Todd Waeltermann called it a great test for the second half of the Highway 40 project, which starts later this year. But he cautioned that traffic is usually lighter on Mondays.

Waeltermann says street crews made a few adjustments to stoplights and road stripes to keep traffic flowing.

The contractor in charge of the project doesn't foresee any problems this weekend when crews close the highway at Hampton to demolish the overpass.

Fans will be downtown for Cardinals, Rams and Blues home games, including the Cards' season finale, and Taste of St. Louis.

The highway will close Friday after the evening rush hour. Drivers will exit the highway, cross Hampton, and re-enter the highway just east of the interchange. It's expected to re-open before rush hour Monday morning.

"You know, we've got eight months of construction to do there, and we want to be able to get as much of it done as fast as we can so that we're not impacting next summer, and we can get everything open by Memorial Day like we planned," said Dan Galvin, a spokesman for Gateway Constructors, the project's contractor.

Galvin says the situation is much better than the Kingshighway overpass. That demolition required a shutdown of Highway 40, but Kingshighway remained open, which made it more difficult for Highway 40 traffic to cross over.

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