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New river bridge bolsters link to St. Charles County

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio
State and local officials pose for a ceremonial ribbon cutting to mark the completion of I-64's eastbound Daniel Boone Missouri River Bridge.

A new bridge over the Missouri River is opening Monday morning, underscoring how much St. Louis and St. Charles Counties have grown together over the past three decades.

State and local officials gathered Thursday to cut a ceremonial ribbon on the new eastbound span of the I-64 Daniel Boone Bridge.

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann told an audience of about 50 people that the bridge is the 7th river crossing built between the two counties in the last 37 years.

“Used to be [with] these bridges you saw it was crowded going to St. Louis County in the morning and it was crowded coming to St. Charles County in the afternoon. Now, in the morning and the afternoon, you see people moving both directions,” he said.

The bridge opening is part of a $111 million project and will allow work crews to switch directions of the current eastbound bridge. I-64’s westbound bridge, which was built in the 1930s, will be demolished early next year.

The project also involves work on the Spirit of St. Louis bridge, the connection of north outer road to the new Chesterfield Airport Road interchange and the continuation of a fourth westbound lane to Route 94.

The project is funded with federal and state transportation dollars with approval from the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission and the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.

MoDOT officials have warned that similar projects may not have funding moving forward. The Department’s engineer, Ed Hassinger, said much-needed upgrades elsewhere in the state are on hold due to a severe budget shortfall.

“We have 55 bridges that cross the Missouri or Mississippi Rivers that need to be replaced and, if you do the math, we build these bridges to last about 100 years,” he said. “That means we need to replace one of these major river crossings every two years … and we aren’t even coming close to that.”

MoDOT plans to fully maintain only a quarter of state roads and bridges starting in 2017 if the state fails to secure more funding.

I-64’s new eastbound Daniel Boone Bridge opens Monday morning. Up to two lanes of traffic are scheduled to be closed on eastbound I-64 this weekend, starting Friday evening.