ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOV) – With the westbound lanes of the Blanchette Bridge set to close for about a year, questions have arisen about what plans are in place to deal with emergencies.
By Monday morning, the westbound lanes of the bridge will be closed. What is normally five lanes in either direction on two bridges will be reduced to a mile-long stretch of three lanes each way on just the eastbound bridge.
“No shoulders, a barrier wall down the middle. So that’s a long way when you have an incident in the middle of that with no shoulder for the emergency response vehicles to be able to work,” said Linda Wilson Horn with the Missouri Department of Transportation.
The plan for major accidents would be to completely close off the highway and have emergency crews go the “wrong way,” so to speak.
“If it’s an eastbound lane we shut it down from the eastbound and proceed from the opposite end of travel and we get our crews up there, mitigate the scene, get off the roadway and open it back up,” said Pattonville Fire Department Battalion Chief Jim Usry.
Police, fire, paramedics, 911 dispatch and MoDOT have been meeting for more than a year to plan emergency response.
The 5th Street on-ramp on the west end of the bridge is now closed to the public, but a gate will be installed that emergency vehicles can use to get to accidents on the bridge.
The Pattonville Fire Department has done additional training for water rescues and large construction site accidents.
MoDOT is also reminding drivers if they are in a fender bender, state law requires they get off the roadway and onto a shoulder. Those who can safely move their car off the bridge should do it.