St. Louis (KMOV.com) -- After facing numerous delays from acquiring private land, St. Louis Board of Public Service President Richard Bradley, P.E., believes demolition of the Grand Boulevard Bridge in Midtown will commence by the end of 2010, paving way to the construction of a completely new and redesigned bridge.
Once the yearlong project is completed, the new bridge will feature numerous improvements that aim to enhance safety, and appearance.
Currently, the pedestrian sidewalks on either side of the bridge measure less than four feet in width, something SLU student Brett Kostrzewski calls “an unsafe nuisance.”
The new plans have the sidewalks expanding to 13 feet, three times the width of the current bridge.
Another needed improvement on the bridge features separate turn out lanes for buses and vehicles, ending present-day traffic hazards caused by sudden stops of vehicles dropping off or picking up Metrolink passengers.
Other notable additions with the new bridge include separate bike lanes, improved lighting, four towers that replicate the original bridge and a 9-foot-wide median which will be maintained by SLU.
“SLU is excited about taking over [the median] and having some ownership in the bridge,” said William Early, P.E., the city’s chief bridge engineer. Early said SLU will maintain the planting, mulching and watering of the new median.
Bradley thinks the project will be set for bids later this Summer, with the notice to proceed taking place over the Fall. After that, the demolition of the existing bridge can take place which Bradley believes will occur during the Winter. But, SLU officials told the campus in February that construction was set for July.
Why the delay?
“We are expanding the width of the current bridge, so it required right of way,” said Bradley. “And because you’re dealing with private entities, it takes more time.”
The city also wants to make improvements to the suggested alternative routes, Compton and Vandeventer, before closing a bridge that carries 30,000 cars a day, Bradley said.
The year-long project will likely cause headaches for SLU students navigating between the medical and main campus, as well as commuters who use the Grand Metrolink station, which will close for the duration of the project. The train service will still run under the bridge and will not alter.
“[Metro doesn’t want] passengers waiting under a bridge that is under construction,” said Early.
“For the amount of time the bridge will be down, the final product will be well worth [the wait],” Bradley said. “It will be the main North-South route in the city of St. Louis.”
The estimated cost of the project is $25 million, 80% of which comes from federal funding.
Mark J. Zinn is a student at Saint Louis University