Telegraph Road bridges over I-255 to be replaced

Crews scheduled to finish Jefferson Barracks Bridge work by Sept. 1

By BURKE WASSON

With work to the Jefferson Barracks Bridge scheduled to be complete in just more than two months, the Missouri Department of Transportation is looking a few miles west to replace the Telegraph Road bridges over Interstate 255.

MoDOT Project Manager Shirley Norris said the two bridges will be replaced to form a single bridge. Construction on the bridge project is scheduled to begin in June 2007.

Besides replacing the two bridges with one, MoDOT crews also plan to construct a new two-lane loop ramp from northbound Telegraph Road to westbound I-255. The new ramp is designed to keep traffic moving and will not include a traffic light.

Plans also call for the replacement of entrance and exit ramps on the south side of the Telegraph Road bridge. These ramps are scheduled to be moved to the north side.

As a way for the public to become better accustomed with the $7 million project set for next summer, Norris said MoDOT officials scheduled a public meeting from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 28, at the Cliff Cave Branch County Library, 5430 Telegraph Road.

“It’s gone through full-fledged project development,” Norris said. “And we’re at the point now where we have a preliminary plan pretty well honed in. We just want to tell the public what’s going on.”

Norris said the replacement of the Telegraph Road bridges hanging over I-255 has been discussed for the past several years. Thanks to federal funding for the project, the new loop bridge will become a reality in 2007.

“We have a five-year state transportation and improvement program,” Norris said. “It’s called the STIP (Statewide Transportation Improvement Program). And it’s been in the STIP for awhile, so it’s been a public commitment or a funded commitment for a couple of years.”

I-255 drivers already have felt the delaying effects of construction to the Jefferson Barracks Bridge, which connects Missouri and Illinois over the Mississippi River, since the spring.

But the project’s resident engineer, Steve Truemper, said he anticipates St. Louis Bridge crews will complete repairs to the bridge’s expansion joints by their contracted date of Sept. 1.

The project has required workers to replace the bridge’s expansion joints and then repaint them. At the moment, Truemper said work on the new joints is nearly done and painting likely will begin soon.

He expects that the Jefferson Barracks Bridge should have a minimum of two lanes open on both eastbound and westbound sides for the rest of the project’s duration.

“We have access patches to get down below underneath the bridge for inspections and stuff and we’re doing some upgrades to those,” Truemper said. “It shouldn’t be any less than two lanes open at a time. What we’re doing westbound right now with those expansion devices requires us … it’s something that we can’t open up the traffic the same day we do the work. That’s why that lane’s closed the whole time.”

After work to the bridge’s expansion joints is finished by the expected date of Sept. 1, Truemper said some work to the westbound side’s shoulder would still have to be done.

“With the work we have and what we were originally contracted to do, that’s not going to be a problem,” Truemper said. “There’s going to be some additional work that will come up that will take place a little bit after that. That will take place on the westbound direction on the shoulder only, so it really shouldn’t affect thru traffic.”

To let drivers know about possible traffic changes in 2007, Norris said the transportation department tries to schedule as many public meetings as it can and encourages anyone with concerns to attend them.

That being said, she is optimistic that people would attend the meeting for the replacement of the Telegraph Road bridges.

“That’s when we actually put the time in to show you planwise, picturewise, textwise, any other wise, exactly what we plan to do,” Norris said. “And then we solicit your comments. Like I say, we have a proposal here, and that’s the way we’re going into the public meeting. We will gladly take your comments and evaluate them, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s pure public outreach.

“I’m just anxious that the public knows exactly what we’re going to do,” Norris said. “The real message I have is this is your opportunity to know what’s coming down the road, so to speak.”