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Illinois and Missouri agree on Poplar Street Bridge upgrades

HDR Engineering

Illinois and Missouri officials appear to agree on a series of phased upgrades to the Poplar Street Bridge.

The plan would add a third eastbound I-64 lane over the bridge, as well as provide a two-lane onramp from northbound I-55.

MoDOT District Engineer Ed Hassinger says the $80 million in upgrades will go a long way toward smoothing the flow of traffic over the Mississippi.   

“It reduces all that congestion, both on I-55 and replaces some infrastructure, that quite frankly is way beyond its useful life and we’re always worried about having to close,” Hassinger said.

Illinois officials had objected to the removal of an eastbound onramp from I-70, which they said would hurt connectivity to the Metro East.

Omer Osman is an engineer for the Illinois Department of Transportation. He says the new plan addresses their concerns by creating a connecting ramp to  southbound Illinois Route 3 by way of the MLK Bridge.

But Osman says the biggest improvement will on I-64 itself.

“The resolution they came up with is huge to address the backups on 64,” Osman said. "After looking at their concepts I think it’s going to address a whole lot more than a Route 3 issue.”

The plan would also reduce backups on northbound I-55 by adding a second eastbound onramp to the Poplar Street Bridge.

A vote on the plan by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments is scheduled later this month.  Construction would start next year.

Follow Adam Allington on Twitter:  @aallington