New Mississippi River Bridge

New Mississippi River Bridge
New Mississippi River Bridge
Official name Not named yet [1]
Carries 4 lanes of I-70.svg I-70, expandable to 6[2]
Crosses Mississippi River
Locale St. Louis, Missouri and St. Clair County, Illinois
Maintained by MoDOT and IDOT
Design Cable-stayed bridge
Total length 2,803 feet (854 m)
Longest span 1,500 feet (457 m)
Clearance below 75 feet (23 m)
Opened Proposed 2015
Coordinates 38°38′40″N 90°10′42″W / 38.64444°N 90.17833°W / 38.64444; -90.17833

The New Mississippi River Bridge is a bridge, currently under construction, which will eventually cross the Mississippi River, connecting St. Clair County, Illinois to the city of St. Louis, Missouri. The structure will relieve traffic on nearby bridges, most importantly the Poplar Street Bridge, which carries I-44, I-55, I-64, I-70, and US 40.

The bridge is of a cable-stayed design and has a proposed main span of 1,500 feet (457 m).[3] It will carry four mainline traffic lanes (down from the originally planned eight), with room to add a lane in each direction, providing for expansion and reconfigurability. It will also be designed so that a companion bridge could be built beside it.[4]

When all stages are complete, Interstate 70 will be re-routed over the new bridge. It will meet the existing I-70 at Cass Avenue and connect with the existing Interstate 55/Interstate 64/I-70 in East St. Louis.[4] The remaining stretch of I-70 through downtown St. Louis will be redesignated Interstate 44 as indicated at the MODOT/ILDOT site for the bridge.[5]

Ground was broken officially on April 19, 2010 with plans for completion by 2015.[2] Currently, both the Missouri and Illinois approaches are being built.



The bridge towers under construction, July 2011

Once construction is completed, expected to be in 2015,[6] the bridge will be one of a kind in North America. The main span of the bridge will be 1,500 feet (460 m) in length, with a total span length of 2,803 feet.[6] It will be 86 feet (26 m) wide. Cables will stretch from the bridge deck to the tops of two "A" shaped towers, which will reach 435 feet (133 m) above I-70. According to the Illinois and Missouri Departments of Transportation, the new bridge’s main span will consist of 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of 0.6-inch-diameter (15 mm) stay-cable strand—enough for nearly two round trips from St. Louis to Chicago. Nearly 15,000 tons of structural steel will be used, along with 90,600 cubic yards of concrete for the foundation, deck slab, and towers and 8,600 tons of reinforcing steel.[7]



The original design of the bridge and surrounding area put the project estimate at nearly $1.6 billion.[6] Soon, both state governments decided that this price tag would not be able to be met by the state governments, and a new design, submitted in 2007, put the new estimate at $667 million.[8] Of this $667 million, $264 million will go to relocating I-70 in Illinois, $57 million to relocating I-70 in Missouri, with the last $346 million going to the bridge construction itself.[8] The Illinois state government is committed to spending $313 million, with Missouri contributing $115 million. The last $239 million is being received in a grant from the federal government.[8]

Proposal of Toll Bridge

The funding of the bridge project was the topic of lengthy debates between both the Illinois and Missouri governments.[9] After receiving the federal grant, Illinois was ready to finance the project in order to get it started as soon as possible. Missouri was not as prepared, saying that it had more important highway projects to work on in the state. Missouri transportation officials then wanted to sell the bridge rights to a private company, saving the state millions of dollars. This would have manifested in the form of a toll bridge, but Illinois officials and several St. Louis congressman demanded a toll-free crossing. However, in a deal signed February 28, 2008 between Missouri governor Matt Blunt and Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, the two parties agreed that the bridge will not be tolled.[9] This ended the attempt by Missouri officials to privatize the bridge, selling the rights to build, operate and maintain it up to 99 years, to an outside company.[9]


An initial estimate of $190 million for the bridge's main span proved $39 million too low. The bid for the span from a joint venture of Massman Construction Co. of Kansas City, Traylor Bros. Inc. of Indiana and St. Louis-based Alberici Corp. set the figure at $229.5 million. Another bid by a joint venture of American Bridge Co. and Dragados USA, was $274.9 million. On December 30, 2009, the joint venture of Massman Construction Co. of Kansas City, Traylor Bros. Inc. of Indiana and St. Louis-based Alberici Corp. were awarded the contract for the main span.[10] MoDOT previously agreed to cover any run overs in cost, and fears have been aired of the project being scaled back.

Design Challenges

Subsurface exploration done by geotechnical engineering company Modjeski and Masters showed the existence of thick deposits of “low-density” sand below the water table.[11] Limestone bedrock is 120 feet (37 m) below the surface on the Illinois side and between 30 and 60 feet (18 m) below the surface on the Missouri side. The loose sand, in combination with the project location's high seismic design requirements, results in the potential for liquefaction during an earthquake. To accommodate these conditions, the foundations were changed to feature 12-foot-diameter (3.7 m), 120-foot-long (37 m) drilled piers founded in rock to support the bridge superstructure. Several other approaches were considered, including in-situ densification of the sands.[11]


Land Sale Controversy

In 2003, land intended to be used for the bridge was sold by the City of St. Louis Land Reutilization Authority to a private developer for $2. The MoDot warned the developer not to build in early 2008. The developer completed the construction of 400 storage units on the property. MoDot offered the developer a $1.7 million buy out, which was turned down. The property was condemned, and a circuit court assessed the property at $2.3 million. MoDot is currently contesting this amount.[12]

Naming Controversy

In August 2004 William Perkins and Russ Reike, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, gave Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL) petitions with over 4,000 signatures supporting the naming of the new bridge "Veteran's Memorial Bridge". This effort was supported by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. The Missouri State Legislature voted on August 28, 2005 to name the bridge after Ronald Reagan.[13] Another name which has been proposed (but remains unpopular) is the "Jerry F. Costello-William Lacy 'Bill' Clay Sr. Veterans Memorial Bridge."[14] The Missouri House of Representatives approved the Costello-Clay bridge name in March 2011 but the Missouri Senate Senate Transportation Committee rejected it in April 2011. Some groups are pushing "Women Veterans Memorial Bridge."[15] At this time, the bridge does not have an official name.

Minority Labor Controversy

In August 2011, community leaders in East St. Louis lodged complaints with the Illinois Department of Transportation stating that there were not enough minority groups represented in the labor force. Federal law requires that any public works project that is fully or partially funded by federal dollars must have 14.6% of the labor force be minority group members. Though the project meets these requirements according to contractor records, the activists argue that the labor force is not representative of those living in the region.[16][17] A protest and work stoppage on the Illinois portion of the bridge has been threatened but work on the bridge continues.

See also


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ a b Crouch, Elisa (2008-02-26). "States reach bridge deal". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  3. ^ [2][dead link]
  4. ^ a b Crouch, Elisa (2008-02-27). "Illinois is set to start bridge". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Archived from the original on 2008-03-26. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c Weeks III, John A. (2009). "New Mississippi River Bridge". John A. Weeks III. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  7. ^ Coates, Chris (September 10, 2008). "New Mississippi River Bridge takes shape". Edwardsville Journal. http://edwardsvillejournal.stltoday.com1./articles/2008/09/11/news/sj2tn20080910-0910cvj-riverbridge.ii1.txt. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  8. ^ a b c "New Mississippi River Bridge Project". Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  9. ^ a b c Crouch, Elisa (February 26, 2008). "States reach bridge deal". St. Louis Post Dispatch. Archived from the original on 2008-03-26. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  10. ^ Volkmann, Kelsey (2009-12-30). "Alberici, Massman, Traylor win $229M Mississippi River Bridge project". 
  11. ^ a b "Proposed Mississippi River Bridge". 2004. Retrieved 2009-03-12. [dead link]
  12. ^ . 
  13. ^ "Ronald Wilson Reagan Memorial Bridge, Saint Louis, MO". Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  14. ^ "New Mississippi bridge may be better left nameless". Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  15. ^
  16. ^,0,4086543.story
  17. ^,0,3329944.story

External links

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