New eastbound Meramec River Bridge opens to traffic tonight; construction still finishes in early 2022


The planned Meramec River Bridge replacement.

By Gloria Lloyd, News Editor

The two new Meramec River Bridges on Interstate 44 near Interstate 270 in South County are getting closer to completion, with a major step set for Tuesday night. Overall, the project is still on track to finish on time in early 2022.

Traffic will be moved to the new eastbound bridge overnight Tuesday, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Transportation told The Call.

The $68 million Interstate 44 Meramec River Bridge project includes the replacement of both I-44 bridges west of I-270 over the Meramec River between Sunset Hills and Fenton along with two ramp bridges between I-44 and Geyer Road/Watson Road.

The projected four-year project began in 2018. The interstate is staying open throughout most of construction, although drivers should expect one lane to be closed around the clock for much of the project, mostly on I-44 West.

MoDOT anticipates moving traffic onto the new eastbound bridge tonight. Ahead of that move, officials also gave a preview of what to expect over the next year or so for the project and its shutdowns.

With the move to the new eastbound bridge, eastbound traffic will remain in the same four-lane configuration it is currently.  Crews have to complete some median work before the eastbound lanes are set in their final five-lane configuration.  Even when the lanes are in their final configuration, drivers can still expect the occasional eastbound lane closure for the project.

The ramp to eastbound Watson Road was reopened just before the holidays.

After the move to the eastbound bridge, officials will have about a month of work to prepare the westbound lanes and median barrier so they can move westbound traffic to the new westbound bridge.

Once that work is done – by about the first week or so in February – MoDOT will move two lanes of westbound  traffic and the ramp lane from northbound I-270 to  the new westbound bridge. The ramp lane from southbound I-270 to westbound I-44 will remain on the old westbound bridge for a short time.

For about two weeks after that move, the three lanes of traffic on the new westbound bridge won’t be able to access the ramp to Soccer Park in Fenton.

The ramp from southbound I-270 to westbound I-44 will still have access while crews work on tying in the new southbound ramp and finishing pavement work on the east end of the bridge.

Drivers on the new westbound bridge — including those heading to the Road Ranger gas station — will need to use Bowles to detour around the ramp closure.

After that, drivers can continue to expect at least one lane closed on westbound I-44 through much of next year as crews demolish the old westbound bridge and work on the remaining bridge that will help collect and distribute traffic between westbound I-44, northbound and southbound I-270 and Soccer Park. Crews will also work on the shared use path bridge over the river.