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Poplar Street Bridge road work closures are starting. Here's what you need to know

Looking eastbound on the Poplar St. Bridge into East St. Louis on March 12, 2024, from St. Louis.
Joshua Carter
Belleville News-Democrat
Looking eastbound on the Poplar St. Bridge into East St. Louis on March 12, 2024, from St. Louis.

Editor's note: This story was originally published in the Belleville News-Democrat.

Metro East drivers headed to St. Louis will encounter lane closures across the Poplar Street Bridge as the Illinois Department of Transportation begins a $5 million road project.

The agency is patching and resurfacing the stretch of Interstate 55/64 between the Poplar Street Bridge and the I-55/64/70 interchange in East St. Louis, according to Joel Cumby, the project implementation engineer for IDOT.

State maintenance crews have been doing intermittent work to keep the road open for an estimated 120,000 vehicles per day, but Cumby said it needs more substantial repairs now.

“Anybody that’s traveled it understands that it’s in very poor condition,” Cumby said.

What to know

The work will only take place on weekends. And the roadway will remain open throughout the project because IDOT will only fully close one direction at a time.

It is scheduled to begin Friday, March 22, and is expected to wrap up before Memorial Day weekend.

The agency plans to start by closing and working on the eastbound lanes over the course of three weekends, excluding the Easter holiday. It will then move on to the westbound lanes for three weekends.

Lane closures during the work will start at 9 p.m. on Friday nights. The lanes will reopen no later than 5 a.m. the following Monday.

The tentative schedule:

  • Eastbound lane work: March 22-24; April 5-7; and April 12-14.
  • Westbound lane work: April 19-21; April 26-28; and May 3-5.

Cumby said the Illinois Department of Transportation chose to start with the eastbound lanes to make it easier for metro-east residents to get to the St. Louis Cardinals’ first home games of the season in April. But they will need to take an alternate route to get home.

These options will remain open during the road work:

  • Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge.
  • McKinley Bridge.
  • Eads Bridge.
  • Illinois 3.

The Martin Luther King Bridge won’t be an alternate option, according to Cumby.
Because of where the MLK Bridge connects on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, it will have to have lane closures on either the eastbound or westbound side at the same time as the Poplar Street Bridge.

State funding for the project comes from the Rebuild Illinois Capital Infrastructure Plan, which is supported by increased transportation costs, including higher state gas taxes and vehicle registration fees.

The Illinois Department of Transportation also has a larger project planned for the future to eventually repave and repair the Poplar Street Bridge at an estimated cost of $288 million.

Lexi Cortes is a reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

Lexi Cortes is an investigative reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.