For the past twenty years, at least 50,000 vehicles per day has used the Chain of Rocks Bridge.  Right now, that number is closer to 60K, and approximately 20% to 25% of that total is tractor-trailer traffic.  With an IDOT projection for the AADT to exceed 80K (based in 2007) in the next fifteen years, the known problems on the bridge will only get worse.  (IDOT has since revised the AADT projection in 2011, but this document suggest upper 60s by 2030.)

Back in 2004, East-West Gateway put the Level of Service (LOS) for the section between Riverview and Route 3 exits at a D.  (F is the worst score in the LOS scale.)  In addition, some of the documents from the new I-70 Mississippi River Bridge projects have listed the known peak hour capacity for the COR Bridge at approximately 3700 vehicles per hour – and projected to hit that value by 2020.  (A 2009 document projects peak hour LOS at an F by 2030.)  A PDF file released by East-West Gateway in July 2011 showed severe congestion on the section of 270 between Riverview to Route 3 in both the morning and afternoon peak periods.

The first mention of possible widening appeared in the May 7, 1989 article of the Alton Telegraph when one of the IDOT engineers at the time simply said “widening of I-270 from Mississippi River to Route 111”.  Over 22 years have passed since that article and that section of 270 is still at 2 lanes in each direction.

The locals have made concerns with the capacity issues for years.  United Congregations of the Metro East (UCM) got together in November 2004 and one of their concerns was capacity on the Chain of Rocks Bridge.  It is the only concern on their list that has yet to be addressed.

The section of 270 from the river to Route 111 is in the East-West Gateway 2040 long range plan with a projected cost of $700M.  This cost will make the new I-70 bridge look dirt cheap by the time it ever happens, as it is projected to not to occur until 2030-2040 time frame.  This corridor cannot wait.  A solution needs to be made now.

The canal bridge replacement project did not solve the problems.  It may had added to the problems during the January 2016 flooding that closed the southbound lanes of the Clark Bridge for 2 weeks.  Even after the canal bridge project ended, this section of 270 remains at 2 lanes in each direction.

One incident during the peak hour can turn a 10 minute trip from 255 to 367 into a 60+ minute nightmare.  A serious incident can pretty much cripple the Metro East and/or North County for hours.


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