Notable Incidents

Below include some of the more notable incidents that have occurred on the river bridge, canal bridge, or on the roadway between those two bridges.  (Read below for guidelines on how incidents get listed here.)  If possible, the links to those incidents will be provided, however most of the older incidents the only thing that will be posted is the newspaper article and the date of that article.

Guidelines for Notable incidents as of July 2016:

  • Incident must occur between Lilac and Route 3 exits.  It does not have to occur on either the river or the canal bridge.
  • Incident must be construction related and/or due to an accident.  A simple stalled vehicle by itself is not grounds to be included on the list, however, an stall that leads to secondary incidents can put it on the list.
  • Incident must happen on the mainline lanes or on the shoulders.  Incidents on the outer roads (i.e. Dunn) will not be posted.
  • Incidents do not have to involve injuries. (Fatalities and/or serious injuries increases the odds of being listed.)
  • Weather at the time of the incident will be put in consideration.
  • Time of the day will be a key factor – incidents happening during peak hours have a higher chance of being listed than the ones that happen in the middle of the night.
  • Delays triggering at least 60 minutes during peak periods will be considered. – new guideline as of July 2016.  Direction does not matter.  It is incidents that occur between 05:00 to 09:00 and 15:00 to 19:00 from Monday-Friday, excluding holidays.

Last updated December 14, 2018


January 4, 2016: An morning peak heavier than normal due to the southbound lanes of the Clark Bridge closed by flooding combined with 5 peak hour incidents triggers lengthy delays of 60+ minutes on two different occasions. (One incident itself almost caused 2 hour delays)  Site post.  (There will be additional problems between 1/4/16 and 1/13/16 during the morning peak near the canal bridge, and morning peak delays were at least 45 minutes during weekdays until the Clark Bridge reopened.)

January 9, 2011: A stalled vehicle turns into a rear-end collision in the westbound lane, closing one lane of traffic.

January 16, 2012:  A vehicle stalls on the Illinois end of the river bridge -and is struck from behind by a tractor-trailer.  Both eastbound lanes would be blocked by this incident for at least 90 minutes.  Site post.

January 20, 2011:  During a heavy snow event that happened during the morning peak, a tractor-trailer jackknifes eastbound between the Lilac and Riverview exits, causing the already slowed-down heavy traffic to slow down to a crawl.

January 30, 2018:  What appears to be routine construction work that came when that January thaw arrived – turns into an evening peak nightmare for westbound drivers with several vehicles getting flat tires from a poorly executed pothole patching job and IDOT crews forced to work well into the night to get it fixed in time for the subsequent morning peak.  Site post.


February 3, 2015: A planned closure of 270 for the implosion of what was once the westbound canal bridge takes longer than expected when the implosion was botched.  Although 270 was reopened for the evening peak, 1 eastbound lane would remain closed for the majority of that ensuing peak period that caused a near record traffic jam that stretched towards Lindbergh, and crews were forced to close 270 once again the following day to finish that job.  To make matters worse, this incident was just the start of what turned out to be a bad 2 month period on this section of 270 that saw multiple incidents between Lilac to 203.  Site Post.

February 9, 2016:  Snow that falls during the morning peak causes the hilly 270 mainline in North County to shut down near West Florissant, and that in turn causes several secondary incidents between 203 and Lilac that caused delays that lasted at least 3 hours.  Site Post.

February 18, 2011: A vehicle overturns on the westbound lanes on the bridge as traffic was slowed due an earlier accident at Lilac.

February 27, 2015: A very bad February is topped off when a tractor-trailer driver was fooled by the lane shift west of the Route 3 exit during the morning peak, causing traffic to back up to 255 and taking over 4 hours to reopen the lanes.  Site Post.


March 5, 2015:  The morning peak is marred by 5 different incidents on the river bridge, involving a total of 15 vehicles and causing traffic to back up to 255.  Site post.

March 8, 2005:  A six vehicle accident happens on the canal bridge during the peak hour, causing major delays westbound.

March 13, 2002:  An fatal accident on the island just east of the river bridge kills one and injures three people when a vehicle hits a tractor-trailer from behind.

March 14, 2010: A fatal accident on the bridge during the middle of the night shuts down the bridge for reconstruction investigators.

March 16, 2003: A flat tire spurs an accident on the canal bridge that leads to both lanes in one direction to be shut down for an hour.

March 24, 1979: An late-winter ice storm hits the area, causing the bridge to ice over.  (Alton Telegraph, March 26, 1979)

March 26, 2014: An incident involving 2 vehicles westbound just west of the canal bridge during the morning peak causes westbound traffic to back up to 255 and takes over an hour to clear, and caused an secondary incident to boot.  Link to post.

March 30, 2016: An morning peak accident on WB 270 just west of Lilac leads to multiple secondary incidents between Lilac and the river bridge.  Site post.


April 13, 2011:  Two tractor-trailers get tied up in the median on the river bridge that was already damaged by earlier incidents, causing one lane in each direction to close for two hours.

April 21, 1981: A vehicle stops on the river bridge to pick up a pedestrian goes tragic when another vehicle hits that vehicle.  One person is killed and another is injured.  (Alton Telegraph, April 22, 1981)

April 20, 1992: A 17 car pileup on the river bridge during the evening peak snarls traffic.  It was raining at the time of the incident.

April 26, 2018:  An high speed police chase concludes with the suspect vehicle crashing their vehicle between the bridges in the eastbound lanes, closing both for over two hours as the police investigate.  Site Post.


May 5, 2016: Several incidents during the morning peak between Route 3 and Lilac causes delays that went over the 60 minute mark.  Site Post

May 7, 1985:  A three-vehicle accident on 270  just east of the river bridge injures three people.  (Alton Telegraph, May 8, 1985)

May 13, 2013:  A tractor-trailer pulls over to the side of the highway westbound just west of the canal bridge during the evening peak and catches fire.  The cab is fully involved by the time crews arrive to put out the fire, which leads to both mainline lanes being blocked for a short time, traffic backing up in both directions for several miles, and it takes several hours to clear the scene and restore traffic flow.  This incident was just the start of what turned to be a very bad week for this section of 270.  Site Post.

May 13, 2016:  IDOT conducts emergency construction during the morning peak on EB 270 near the river bridge, causing traffic in both directions to back up.  To make matters worse, a predawn incident on Riverview south of 270 had that alternate route blocked during the emergency roadwork.

May 15, 2013:  As eastbound traffic is forced to slow down for the lane restrictions for the canal bridge inspections, two tractor-trailers collide on the river bridge, causing a chain-reaction that involved two other vehicles.  This incident led to both lanes to be closed for almost 3 hours for crews to clear this wreck that happened during the late-morning hours.  Site post.

May 16, 2013:  While the morning peak was getting started, three tractor-trailers collide at almost the exact same spot of the river bridge that had the wreck just the day before.  Both eastbound lanes will be closed for 2 1/2 hours as crews cleared this wreck, westbound traffic is backed up several miles during the morning peak, and one of the local TV stations made the incidents top story for the evening news that night.  Site post.

May 30, 2016:  An call to police to respond to what seemed to be a stalled vehicle on EB 270 at the river bridge eventually results in an criminal investigation.  Site post.


June 10, 2017:  An alleged police chase into an active overnight construction zone in North County on EB 270 ends with a spectacular crash just to the east of the Riverview exit, causing both lanes to be blocked for almost 2 hours.  (The lack of an post soon after the accident was due to the incident happening just after midnight on a Saturday morning and traffic was able to sneak past by using the ramps.)

June 13, 2000: A chain reaction fatal accident involving 6 vehicles occurs on the westbound lanes of the canal bridge right after the morning rush hour ends, effectively forcing all traffic to the Clark Bridge for 6 hours as investigators reconstruct the accident.  (Alton Telegraph, June 14, 2000.)

June 18, 2018:  A tire blowout during the morning peak may have trigger a chain reaction incident westbound on the river bridge blocking both lanes for a time and forcing emergency crews to walk to the scene.  Site post.

June 21, 1990: Another chain-reaction accident with 5 vehicles on the westbound canal bridge during the morning peak, with no injuries. (Alton Telegraph, June 21, 1990)


July 8, 2018:  An incident westbound late at night between the Riverview and Lilac exits turns fatal for one person.  Site post.

July 19, 2006:  A severe storm blows through the area, causing 3 tractor trailers to get turned on its side on the river bridge in the eastbound lanes.  This caused major delays for several hours as eastbound traffic is forced to use the Clark Bridge.


August 5, 2013:  An westbound accident on the river bridge caused by a stalled vehicle turns fatal for one person, shuts down both westbound lanes for almost an entire hour, and takes over 2 hours to clearSite Post.

August 9, 2004: The day before the tanker accident, there is an accident at the Lilac exit that involves an RV and a dump truck and blocks both eastbound lanes for three hours.

August 10-14, 1994:  Two pins fail at an expansion joint on the Illinois side of the bridge in the westbound lanes late on the night of August 10, causing 3 of the 4 lanes to close until the 14th.  IDOT wasn’t done with the lane closures after they were reopened: there was another incident that happened during the afternoon peak period on the following Friday afternoon for emergency inspections.  There was major media coverage with this incident.

August 10, 2004:  On the morning of the 10th anniversary of one of the most notorious incidents in history, a tanker truck catches fire on the westbound lanes at the Riverview exit, forcing traffic once again to go through Alton as both 270 and Dunn Road between the Riverview and Lilac exits were closed.  (Alton Telegraph, August 11, 2004)  Youtube video link.

August 13, 2018:  At the end of the AM peak, someone threatens to jump from the river bridge, closing all lanes for 2 hours.  Site post.

August 14, 2010:  A tractor-trailer and a small vehicle collide just east of the Lilac exit, blocking both eastbound lanes when the tractor-trailer turns on its side.  Youtube link.  It takes at least three hours for crews to clear the scene.

August 19, 1985: During a summer thunderstorm, a tractor-trailer jackknifes on the bridge, closing it down until the scene is cleared.  That driver walked away from the wreck after rescue crews arrived.

August 19, 2003: A car hits a stalled tractor-trailer from behind on the Illinois side of the river bridge, killing one person.

August 21, 2018:  A peak hour incident westbound just west of the river bridge delays traffic all the way to Route 111 and takes over 90 minutes to clear.  Site Post.

August 24, 2003: Less than a week following a fatal accident, another accident happens on the river bridge involving a wrong way driver.  Several vehicles are involved.

August 26, 2014: 2 vehicles collide eastbound on the river bridge during the morning peak, slowing down westbound traffic that was taking a look, and blocking 1 eastbound lane for 2 hours due to a delay in the tow coming to clear the incident.  Site Post.

August 27, 2014:  An alleged wrong-way driver hits another vehicle on the canal bridge in the eastbound direction during the overnight hours.  Site Post.


September 8, 2013:  Westbound traffic on a Sunday evening is marred by a 6 vehicle accident that caused one lane of traffic to limp by for 90 minutes – and just as crews cleared that one a second accident occurs – this one shut down all 4 lanes on the river bridge at one point and both westbound lanes were blocked for over an hour as crews had to walk to the scene to clear it.  It will take 3 hours for traffic to return to normal following both accidents.  Site Post.

September 17, 2016:  Two incidents on the river bridge relating from Ride of the Century are caught on film along with two close calls further into North County.  Site Post.

September 19, 2018:  Rain contributed to a morning peak incident eastbound on the hill just west of the Lilac exit, closing eastbound for a time and slowing down westbound traffic.  Site Post.


October 4, 2012:  Overnight work on the river bridge which was supposed to be picked up by 05:00 does not get done until 13:00, causing rush hour traffic to limp by on just one lane of traffic during the morning peak.  This caused westbound traffic to back up all the way to Route 159, at least one television station to make the mess top story in the evening news, and the contractor an hefty fine.  To make matters worse, this incident set the tone for the entire month with a bridge closing incident the ensuing Monday evening and unrelated canal bridge lane closures that lasted over 2 weeks.  Site Post.

October 8, 2012:  A tractor-trailer hits a vehicle going eastbound on the river bridge just past the Riverview exit shortly after 21:00, shutting down both eastbound lanes for over 90 minutes and takes 2 1/2 hours for crews to clear.  Site Post.

October 16, 1993: A mother and daughter is killed on the river bridge when the mother loses control of her vehicle during a thunderstorm, crosses the median wall, and hits a tractor-trailer head-on. (Alton Telegraph, October 18, 1993)

October 19, 2016: An peak hour incident just to the east of the river bridge caused lengthy delays for westbound traffic and briefly blocked both westbound lanes.  Site Post.


November 2, 1983:  During wet weather, a man loses control going eastbound on the river bridge and is seriously injured when that vehicle hits a tractor-trailer.  (Alton Telegraph, November 3, 1983)

November 4, 2011:  A tractor-trailer rams into a vehicle attempting an U-Turn on the island during the afternoon peak periods.  Eastbound traffic is backed up to 367; westbound traffic to 203 as 1 lane in each direction was closed as crews try to clear this.  Site Post.

November 9, 2017:  River fog and freezing temperatures may have contributed to a chain reaction incident westbound at the river bridge that blocked both lanes for at least an hour during the morning peak.  Site post.

November 11, 2013: A vehicle overturns on the westbound lanes of the canal bridge, causing traffic restrictions just before the start of the evening peak.

November 12, 1977:  A chain-reaction accident involving a tractor-trailer that happens in the middle of the night shuts down the span and kills one person.  The initial accident was a two-car collision.  (Alton Telegraph, November 12, 1977)  The accident would close down the bridge for 8 hours.  (Jefferson City News and Tribune, November 13, 1977.)

November 30, 2006: An ice storm that hits the River Bend causes a jackknifed trailer on the river bridge (that closed down the bridge) and a separate six-car crash that happened later.  (Alton Telegraph, December 1, 2006)


December 1, 1991: An ice storm hits the area, causing the bridge to ice over and officials to shut it down due to the accidents.

December 1, 2014: An unexpected freezing rain event sneaks into the region during the morning peak, causing a overturned tanker truck in the eastbound lanes just west of the Riverview exit along with another unrelated minor incident on the ramp from Riverview to the river bridge.  This incident would shut down both eastbound lanes for 2 hours and takes 5 hours to clear.

December 4, 2015: Freezing fog causes at least two incidents at Lilac during the morning peak, causing crews to remain in the area for the majority of the time.  To make matters worse, an bridge-closing incident on the Lewis Bridge caused heavier than normal traffic conditions on 270 and that in turn caused delays to go over 90 minutes.  Site post.

December 6, 1978: Another ice storm hits the River Bend, shutting down the river bridge as it ices over and causes tons of wrecks.  A writer from the Alton Telegraph refers to these people as “clowns”.  (Alton Telegraph, December 9, 1978)

December 8, 2010: A stalled vehicle in the westbound lanes near the Missouri end turns into a major incident as a tractor trailer slams into that vehicle, instantly killing the driver in that vehicle.  The tractor trailer will then catch fire.  With temperatures in the teens at the time of the wreck, any attempt to fight the fire caused the bridge to ice over.  This resulted in the bridge to close for 10 hours right before the start of the morning rush, and cause some of the biggest traffic jams in the Metro East in sixteen years.

December 8, 2014: An car allegedly going at an high rate of speed in the eastbound lanes overturns trying to take the ramp to Lilac, killing one person and seriously injuring three others.

December 15, 1989: The westbound lanes is blocked due to incident involving two tractor-trailers.

December 17, 2016:  Various minor incidents due to a freezing drizzle event that sneaked into the region during the evening peak, triggering delays between 25-60 minutes on EB 270 from North County to 255, but alleged delays at least 3 hours were observed in the Pontoon Beach area.  (The following day would result in the second fatality at the 255/270 interchange in less than two weeks).

December 19, 2010:  At nearly the same spot of the incident just 11 days earlier, there is another stalled vehicle.  This driver decides to run away from the scene unlike the driver involved in the fatal accident.  A tractor-trailer hits this vehicle from behind, shutting down the bridge for the second time in less than two weeks.  However, this closure will only last for two hours during a Sunday evening.

December 19, 2011:  During the morning rush, a two vehicle accident involving a overturned vehicle occurs westbound on the river bridge, shutting down both westbound lanes for at least an hour as crews clear it.  Site Post.

December 28, 2016: An tractor-trailer going westbound on the river bridge crashes and catches fire just before the start of the morning peak, causing all four lanes to close for an hour and forcing westbound traffic to seek another route.  Site post.


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