week 1 construction wrap up

Posted: 2012/10/13 in accident, congestion, construction, safety, stall

The first of three weeks of the lane closures is in the bag and there are only two more weeks to go.  As predicted the eastbound peak hour delays started around the Route 367 interchange and cleared up once past Route 3.  The worst jams only came on that Tuesday afternoon, as people were likely adjusting to the change in traffic pattern and most of the nasty tweeting by frustrated drivers came on that date.  Traffic backed up all the way back towards Lindbergh that afternoon with delays of 2 hours not out of question.  As bad Tuesday was, that delay did not set the all time record for eastbound traffic in the corridor.  That infamous mark was set in February 1997, in the midst of that construction project that lasted from Spring 1996 to Fall 1998 and was contributed due to a bad wreck on the Clark Bridge on a Friday afternoon that led to 15 mile backups and delays that went into early Saturday morning.

However, the week did not go smoothly at all.  Multiple wrecks occurred eastbound between 367 and the river bridge (@StLouisTraffic had at least 4 of them posted to their twitter feed during the week itself and @y98lance mentioned about a fifth that did not make the twitter feed), and there was a peak hour stalled vehicle westbound on the canal bridge.  The good news is that those accidents were minor (one was not on the mainline) and the stall only backed up traffic to 203.  (It did take crews over 40 minutes to clear it and another 30 minutes for the backlog to clear.)  The bad news is that it took 40 minutes for that one stall vehicle to clear and one incident is one incident too many.

light gray sedan in left lane is stalled vehicle.

the area where the backup started from that stalled vehicle

The lanes reopened shortly after 20:00 Friday night but it is short-lived.  Perhaps the predicted storms this weekend may have some role in that, but MoDOT had a full weekend closure on the eastbound Highway 40 approach to the Poplar St. Bridge and had other lane closures on Highway 70 in downtown in place.  There are two more weeks of lane closures to go and once the construction crews switch to the westbound direction the worst delays will happen from sunrise to sunset.  Unconfirmed reports from locals back on October 4 claimed that the delays started at Route 159 and took well over 2 hours to reach the river bridge.  Hopefully those next two weeks will go much smoother as the most dangerous time to use this corridor is about to come in the next few weeks when the bald eagles start flying in.

If you think you get east of Route 3 that you’re in the clear with construction, think again.  IDOT is planning more road work starting at Route 111 and going east until Route 159 next week.  Just for good measure, there is planned work at the 270-255 interchange near Pontoon Beach.  This work, however, is just during the overnight hours.

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