Archive for the ‘construction’ Category


IDOT has confirmed via a press release to what the construction VMS boards were advertising yesterday: a full WB 270 closure from Route 3 to the I-55 interchange in Troy. Crews from Micro-Surfacing Contractors LLC will be out to do the westbound half of 270, which is known to be in even worse shape than eastbound, and the consequences of missing the 05:00 Monday deadline is even worse than eastbound.  (HINT:  crews barely got EB 270 open in time)  The westbound closures are expected to have a much more disruptive effect than eastbound for various reasons, some which are obvious and some of it because of other road work on alternative routes that can come back and haunt IDOT in the event of an epic fail eastbound.

While access to the bridges do remain, it must be done via the back road system:

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The best alternate route is New Poag Road, and detours will be marked along 255 and New Poag Road.  The better detour is using a combination of Route 3, New Poag Road, 255, and Route 162, as IDOT has been bold enough to start construction projects on 55/70 and that includes a closure of 55/70 EB from 64 to 255 this weekend as well.  (There is closures on Route 143 just east of Route 3 that IDOT boldly planned a 270 EB detour route but made an about face the morning of the 11th.)

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Keep in mind this closure takes place right before the solar eclipse on August 21, and while the admins have not made a lot of mention about it because this area is largely on the fringes of that viewing area, it is certain that heavier than normal traffic may occur between 09:00 to 16:00.  A separate post regarding the eclipse will be made on Sunday, however, as the admins see the weekend closures as a larger priority.

IDOT has announced off-peak lane closures for westbound 270 at the river bridge on various dates in the next week from 09:00 to 15:00, weather permitting.

The patches that had failed or about to fail.

The bottom line is to expect delays starting at the canal bridge and a reduced speed limit that will be enforced by the ISP.

Before the information with the closures gets posted, the morning peak this morning was marred with two incidents near the river bridge but within a mile of each other:

Only the one closest to Riverview happened within view of the cameras. This incident did not cause the problems until the crews were in the process of clearing it because there was a second incident about a mile to the east of that one.

Both incidents caused about 20-30 minutes in delays, but both happened in the month of August where the big ones are known to occur.

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Now, the next subject is something that the admins posted photos on Saturday of the dates the EB 270 closure. It has now been confirmed by a IDOT press release, and while the bridges will remain open your access has been limited to a combination of New Poag Road and Route 3 OR Pontoon Road and Route 3.  IDOT plans to close EB 270 from Route 3 all the way to Troy next weekend weather permitting, presumably to replace that awful pavement that dates back to the late 1990s (WB 270 pavement is even worse than EB).  The problem is that with an event at Tri City Speedway on Friday evening, there could be hassle in getting to the bridge.  Chain of Rocks Road is an alternate if you are willing to use Maryville Road to cross the railroad tracks, but for the tractor-trailer drivers that utilize the Pontoon Beach distribution centers must use New Poag Road as an alternate as Pontoon Road is off limits to tractor-trailers except the ones that are making local deliveries along that street.

For the detours east of 255, it is mostly 162 and Governors Parkway.  This area, along with North County, is not known to have useful detour routes in the east-west direction.  New Poag Road ultimately goes into 157 and 143 into downtown Edwardsville.  If you are coming out of the Riverbend, it may be wiser to use the Clark Bridge and call it a day.

IDOT announced that starting July 30, there will be overnight restrictions on 270 between Route 3 and Troy, weather permitting.  One lane will be closed between 19:00 to 05:00 in random locations between MM 3 to MM 16 for the purpose of pavement repairs.  (They really need to resurface the entire mainline, not do band aids.)

Expect reduced speed limits (in Illinois you know they can have them up 24/7/365), heavier than normal police enforcement by the state cops, and delays that could go up to 30 minutes or even longer.  We already have an admin that makes regular use of this area during the overnight hours and as such expect the social media accounts to be occasionally monitored until midnight.  The admins do not want to hear about such and such happening while we were sleeping nonsense as there was plenty of that back in June during the overnight construction in North County.

UPDATE 09:45 7/28/17 – IDOT has confirmed via press release that there WILL be weekend closures related to this project but that weekend has not been announced.  When that weekend has been announced it will be posted within 24 hours.

The admins are aware that the third Saturday in September is the date the infamous Ride of the Century will take place – that event takes place during the afternoon hours.  A separate post will come a few days before that event.

Weather permitting, off peak daytime lane restrictions will happen on the river bridge from June 5 through June 8.

For Monday and Tuesday, one westbound lane will close from 09:00 to 15:00. Expect delays to begin near the Route 3 exit.

For Wednesday and Thursday, one eastbound lane will close from 08:00 to 15:00. Expect delays to begin near the Lilac exit.

Expect reduced speed limits on this section of 270 – and expect them to be enforced. Speaking of speed limits, we know this section is enforced on a regular basis as is:


This week is also the week where the DOT is conducting their annual safety check so truckers must take extra precautions and additional delays east of Route 3 may be encountered.

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Lane closures like this one will be in effect for WB 270 both Wednesday and Thursday

Weather permitting, IDOT crews will close the right lane on WB 270 at the river bridge between 09:00 to 12:00 Wednesday and 09:00 to 15:00 Thursday to make repairs to the bridge deck.

While crews are out expect reduced speed limits and delays if your trip goes through this section of 270.


MoDOT has announced lane restrictions on 270 between 170 and the river bridge from 20:00 to 05:00 on weeknights, weather permitting.

If this isn’t enough, though there has been no official announcement the IDOT traffic info map is tipping this one off for next month:

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Weather permitting, there will be lane restrictions on EB/WB 270 between 255 and 157 on Sunday for the purpose of utility crews to finish a power pole replacement.  There could be full mainline blockages up to 15 minutes at random times during the day.  From 07:00 to 20:00 two lanes in each direction will be blocked, so plan on using 162 or New Poag Road to get around.

If you decide to go through 270, don’t be this guy getting busted allegedly doing 91 just to the east of Route 3:

OR the one that did at least 110:

The bottom line: expect reduced speed limits and expect them to be enforced.

Weather permitting, there will be lane restrictions at random locations on 270 between Riverview and Route 3:

Crews are expected to work on the lighting, which has been non existent in spots (especially just to the west of the canal bridge that been out for a least a year), or had an outage in recent weeks (the ones that got knocked out in a recent accident are working again but there are still a few non functioning poles).

As such, expect delays, an enforced speed limit of 45 MPH, and pay attention to the crews. It is doubtful that pothole patching will take place tomorrow but there are two new potholes on the river bridge in the westbound direction between MM 35.4 and MM 0.0, both in the right lane, and the one cannot be avoided.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of one of the biggest epic fails when it comes to the Clark Bridge commute – and a record setting traffic jam on eastbound 270 that allegedly lasted 20 miles and went into a Saturday morning.

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The Alton Telegraph front page from March 1, 1997

If you have been wondering why February 28, 1997 is not on the notable incidents list, that front page is a good explanation why.  The incident actually happened on Route 143 where it meets the Clark Bridge and happened at the stoplight.  How come it lead to a traffic nightmare on 270, a delay of a high school basketball game between the two biggest rivals, and a long evening for thousands of Riverbend residents?

There were several factors that came into play that afternoon:

  • Incident happened around 14:30, right before the start of the evening peak period.
  • It was a Friday afternoon, typically the busiest day of the week on 270.
  • That infamous construction project on 270 between Lilac and 255 was underway where one mainline lane was closed, a second mainline lane was being used as a “reversible lane” that only went eastbound during a 5 hour time window during week days.  This construction zone by itself was a traffic nightmare during the peak periods and for several months the Friday evening peak was a horror show regardless of the weather.  Incidents that happened in the construction zone happened almost every day, especially in the area near Route 111 and again near Route 3.  If that wasn’t bad enough, there were 8’6″ width restriction for the river bridge and a legal weight restriction.
  • There was another road construction project underway in North County on I-70.
  • 255 was not open north of 270.  (That would not occur for another 18 months.)
  • 270 still had the left exit at 170.  The section of 270 between 370 and New Florissant was a notorious choke point during the peak hour back then and it is still is twenty years later.
  • 367 was still in its very infamous configuration north of 270.

The incident happened when a tanker truck allegedly took the right turn from Landmarks to the southbound lanes of the Clark Bridge too fast and overturns.  The nature of the tanker truck forced the emergency crews no choice but to close the Clark Bridge in both directions (note the incident actually didn’t happen on the bridge), Route 143 from Route 3 to the Clark Bridge, and sections of 140 and 67.  367 remained open until the Fisca station but that is where people were being forced to turn around and return to 270.

How come the epic traffic jam formed on 270?  First of all, the Clark Bridge is the main alternate route when it comes to this section of 270.  Locals will use that bridge as an first choice alternate before any other bridge.  Conversely, when the Clark Bridge got closed for any reason the first choice alternate to those locals in the Riverbend was 270.  Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, closures on the Clark Bridge were common as the old bridge was still in use and almost every school district in the Riverbend mandated the school buses going into North County take 270.  While the new bridge put the end of a lot of those closures, the southbound lanes were still prone to flooding, there was an epic fail on 270 in 1994 that forced all traffic through Alton for days, and the consequences that occur when you couldn’t take 367 out of Alton were still fresh on the locals minds.

270 up in North County and in Illinois was a major trucking corridor, and while none of the distribution center buildings were built at the time of this incident, it was an common fact that at least 20-25% of the traffic was truck traffic.  Despite the construction, width limits, and weight limits, truckers decided that 270 through North County was a much better route than 70 through the City of St. Louis and decided to take the gamble.

The moment that the incident went around the radio stations, it was clear that anyone that normally went 270 across the infamous “Bridges of Madison County” were blurting out a lot of choice words.  This incident came at a time where there was no social media, cell phones did not have cameras, and text messaging was unheard of.

Westbound 270 would back up from 255 to Lilac, which was not an unusual sight on a Friday afternoon back in 1997.  What was unusual was that it went into the night.  The westbound drivers actually had it easy that night.  What about eastbound traffic?  It was the normal delay that happened between Dorsett and 70 and again from 370 to New Florissant.  Those delays were not unusual and started to occur at their usual times.  What wasn’t usual: the delay that went from New Florissant to 255, and to an lesser extent, the delay between 70 and 370.  There was an obvious traffic jam approaching Lilac, and past that point traffic went much slower than normal with a big choke point at Route 3.  The traffic jam across the river bridge was going strong even at midnight, which was very unusual even with the construction project underway.

The so called reversible lane?  Unless you were on 270 before Lilac and had no intention of exiting the mainline prior to Route 157, that lane was as good as useless and having an fail in that lane rendered you SOL.  In fact, it was set to westbound by default and unless it was a 5 hour window from Monday-Friday afternoon, all you had was a single eastbound lane.  All the problems in that construction zone were so bad that a state legislator from a neighboring district went out of the way to demand traffic cameras to be installed along the 270 mainline, media coverage of all the incidents was a common occurrence, and the locals knew to use the back roads.

Thus, there were choke points at Route 3 and 111 during this mess as the people were trying to get back into the Riverbend.  255 was NOT OPEN north of 270 when this happened, 111 was still a 2 lane road, and there were a lack of east-west alternate routes in this area on both sides of the river.

About the traffic nightmare in the Riverbend itself?  For several weeks prior to the accident, there were radio personalities on at least two stations bragging about Fast Eddies, and in fact there was a radio ad for that restaurant in Alton that bragged about the new Clark Bridge as the “Fast Eddies” bridge.  Being a Friday night, it was certain that a live band with a well known local reputation was playing at that bar and the locals were going to show up.  With 143 suddenly off limits west of Route 3, the traffic overloaded Route 3 and Broadway into downtown Alton, and College Avenue leading towards Alton High School.  There was an high school basketball game that night at Alton against one of their biggest conference rivals, it was senior night there, and a conference title was at stake.  The traffic jam caused the game to be delayed because their rival couldn’t navigate the traffic jam on 143 and take the back way into the the gymnasium.

What counter measures came from the incident?  Actually none came from it as it as passed off as a fluke.  It would take another fatal accident in North County two years later to force a change on 270 at 170.  The construction project reversible lane tactic has not been used since, at least in the St. Louis area.  It took another epic fail on 270 before the right turn lane from Landmarks to the southbound Clark Bridge got modified.  The only true countermeasure was the change of how the radio ads were made by Fast Eddies, as the bragging came to a stop soon after this incident.  Crowd control tactics from MoDOT and IDOT would improve over a period of time but that didn’t happen overnight.

And what about the weather:  not a cloud in the sky with temperatures around 50.  It was clearly not a factor for this epic fail.  The epic fail in question was not cleared until 2 in the morning the following day.