St. Louis gets ready for Phase 2 of 64/40 project -

St. Louis gets ready for Phase 2 of 64/40 project

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- As one stretch of Interstate 64 opens in the St. Louis area, another closes. Transportation and civic leaders on Thursday urged commuters to once again plan ahead for what, for many, will be a significant disruption.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is spending about $535 million to rebuild an approximately 8-mile stretch of I-64, the region's busiest highway, over two years. Since January, a four-mile stretch of I-64 has been closed since January from Interstate 270 east to Interstate 170. That section is scheduled to reopen on Monday -- about two weeks ahead of schedule. The project also remains on budget, said Ed Hassinger, the department's district engineer.

Starting Sunday, crews will begin shutting down the highway from I-170 east to Kingshighway, not far from downtown St. Louis. Improvements to the highway, bridges and ramps are expected to take another year.

"First and foremost, I want everyone to know the city is ready," said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay at a Thursday news conference. "This project will only be successful if commuters do their part."

Commuters are being urged to vary their routes and travel times; use public transportation; consider working flex hours; obey parking restrictions; and move vehicles involved in minor accidents out of traffic.

MoDOT isn't alone in preparing for the latest closure. City officials said St. Louis has invested nearly $52 million to prepare for the closure by addressing traffic flow problem spots, upgrading roads and making other changes to make alternate roads and highways a better option for motorists.

For example, more than 60 percent of St. Louis intersections are connected through a computer system that can make signal and timing changes to reduce congestion. Also, nearly 2,000 vehicle detection sensors have been installed at intersections to signal when a vehicle is waiting for a green light.

The city has also resurfaced 320,000 yards of roadway; added a fifth lane to busy Lindell Boulevard; added left-turn lanes and removed medians.

MoDOT crews will be removing old stripes and painting new ones at Kingshighway and at I-170 Sunday afternoon. That job could be moved up if poor weather is forecast because restriping can't be done on wet roadways.

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(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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