Pavement Woes Continue to Dog Poplar Street Bridge Commuters

By Leiser, Ken | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), July 6, 2014 | Go to article overview

Pavement Woes Continue to Dog Poplar Street Bridge Commuters


Leiser, Ken, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Poplar Street Bridge commuters have been dealing with a washboard- quality driving surface for a long time. There was even some hope that the latest temporary patch would stick until the bridge gets a more permanent resurfacing.

Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case on the westbound driving lanes one of which has been closed for repairs since late May and will remain closed through next year. (You may recall that the Missouri Department of Transportation also closed the ramp carrying traffic from the westbound lanes of the bridge to Interstate 44 and Memorial Drive.)

"Now since the far-right lane is blocked with concrete barriers on (the Poplar Street Bridge) coming westbound, the right lane along the concrete barriers going to I-44 is getting worse every day," observed commuter Mike M., who asked his full last name not be used. "I know you're not legally allowed to go over the white lines on the bridge, but dodging the potholes, being afraid you will hit the concrete divider or risk blowing a tire or bending a wheel is a bit much."

Indeed, the westbound driving surface does deteriorate the closer you get to the Missouri side and the southbound Interstate 4 4-55 ramp downtown. Deep potholes have opened up, and the pavement has gaps.

MoDOT, which is leading efforts to rehabilitate the Mississippi River crossing, is aware of the problem.

"Yes, the pavement is coming up," said Deanna Venker, MoDOT's area engineer for the city of St. Louis. "We are developing another temporary solution that gets us through the job we have out there now."

The summer heat made the pavement more pliable, and the stop-and- go traffic on that part of the bridge has pushed the soft pavement, resulting in the potholes and gaps.

Venker added that motorists may legally switch lanes over the solid white lines.

Again, pavement problems are nothing new on the Poplar Street Bridge. The bridge deck is essentially a steel box covered with a relatively thin layer of pavement. The project now underway will add a 4-inch concrete overlay.

Once the work is completed on the westbound lanes, MoDOT will shift its focus to the eastbound span of the Poplar. Ultimately, that will include the addition of a fifth lane to provide relief to the notorious traffic choke point.

Stay tuned.

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