Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Westbound I-44 Back in Business

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Westbound I-44 Back in Business

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * Area highways began to reopen Thursday almost as quickly as they were closed by flooding earlier in the week.

Westbound Interstate 44 was back in business Thursday afternoon, just in time for rush hour, and the eastbound lanes opened about 10 p.m. The Missouri Department of Transportation had said the eastbound opening was dependent on water receding and engineers finding no damage to roads and bridge structures.

"If it's a little bit of mud, we can take care of that pretty fast," Tom Blair, assistant district engineer for MoDOT, said Thursday. "But if there's damage, it may take a little longer."

The interstate had been closed to through traffic for a 25-mile stretch from Interstate 270 to Gray Summit since Tuesday. Some local traffic had been allowed through to Bowles Avenue, but the closure had pushed most traffic onto a long detour along Highway 100/Manchester Road.

The exits from I-44 to Soccer Park Road and Highway 141 remained closed. Highway 141 will likely remain shut down at I-44 through the weekend.

Earlier on Thursday, Interstate 55 was the good news.

MoDOT had predicted that Interstate 55 would close in both directions as the river crested at Arnold, and that the bridges carrying Jeffco Boulevard/Lemay Ferry Road and Telegraph Road over the Meramec River might also have to close, cutting off the southern part of the region.

In the end, only the southbound lanes of I-55 were closed, starting about noon Wednesday. Jeffco Boulevard was narrowed, but the crossing there and at Telegraph remained open.

Closure of northbound lanes of I-55 was postponed, and in the end wasn't necessary. Southbound lanes reopened early Thursday.

Still, the closures of various other roads caused snarls and logistical problems in the area. MoDOT on Thursday thanked residents for their cooperation and patience.

"Thank you to everyone in St. Louis," Blair said at a midday press conference. "There's so many of you that adjusted your schedules. Businesses, the hospitals, the schools, it's been hard. We're getting close to the end, so keep it up."

Blair said he hadn't seen any estimate of how much extra money MoDOT had been spending to deal with the flood, but he said it's likely in the millions statewide. …

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