Preparation has already began for a major overhaul of the Blanchette Bridge and the Missouri Department of Transporatation is predicting will cause major traffic disruptions for Chesterfield drivers when the one half of the bridge is completely closed this weekend.
Instead of five lanes in either direction, drivers will be shifted over to the eastbound bridge, which itself will be split into three narrow lanes in each direction, while the westbound structure receives a $63 million overhaul.
"We are doing major rehabilitation work," said MoDOT spokesperson Linda Wilson Horn. "We are tearing 75 percent of it off and hope to be done by Fall 2013."
MoDOT is asking drivers to seek alternate routes, including traveling south on Route 141 through Chesterfield and crossing over the river via Highway 40.
"We certainly expect to get a little bit more increased traffic [on 141]," she said. "We think there will be people who take the Page Avenue extension and 141."
She also acknowledged that the southbound portion of Route 141 can currently experience traffic back-ups during weekday rush hours.
"The difficult thing about the southbound lane is the signal at St. Luke's Hospital," she said. "You've had free-flow traffic for miles and miles, so whatever that first signal is that you come to, it's going to get backed up."
Horn added that MoDOT engineers have been working on the signal timing at the intersection,but there's a limitied amount they can do without building an interchange.
Plan Ahead to Avoid Getting Stuck
The main alternate routes will involve using the two bridges north and south of the Blanchett via I-270 to either Route 370 or Route 364. Horn said the MoDot has made extensive preparations to make sure they are ready for the closing, including a public information campaign and the completion of nearby road projects, such as Route 141.
The most important thing for motorists is to begin trying out alternate route's now, before the bridge closing and the potential choas it could bring on Monday morning.
"Try them out this week, so that Monday morning you are not in a panic," Horn said.