A 50-year-old portion of Interstate 44 at supports 71,000 vehicles per day, and now needs major repair from the ground up.
Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) officials and Sgt. Al Nothum of the Missouri Highway Patrol Troop C hosted a news conference Tuesday near the scene of new construction at Antire Road on I-44 at Eureka to explain changes drivers should expect during the next few months.
See previous Eureka-Wildwood Patch article:
One lane of eastbound I-44 was closed Tuesday evening. One lane of westbound lane of I-44 then will be closed Friday evening after rush hour traffic, said MoDOT's St. Louis District Engineer Ed Hassinger.
Crews will keep one lane on westbound I-44 at Antire Road closed around-the-clock, except between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays for the evening rush period, Hassinger said.
In addition, the entrance and exit ramps from westbound I-44 to Antire will be closed during the month of June. Drivers heading from Antire Road to westbound I-44 will need to take eastbound I-44 to Route 141 and head back along westbound I-44. Drivers on westbound I-44 heading to Antire Road will need to take westbound I-44 to Lewis Road, head back on eastbound I-44 and exit at Antire Road. All detours will be marked.
Officials said motorists will experience delays during this work, and are encouraged to use alternate routes. To plan alternative routes, call 1-888-ASK-MODOT or visit the department's website, however for this particular area, there are not wonderful, likely options simply due to the natural topography. More drivers are expected to use Missouri Route 109 to avoid the whole Antire Road situation, but that highway already is one of West St. Louis County's busiest roadways.
Hassinger said there are a few local routes to use, but permanent detours will not be assigned.
Nothum said drivers should expect increased law enforcement in this work zone. "With work here near Antire Road expected to go on 24x7, motorists won't be used to the lane changes," he said.
He said highway patrol officers are concerned about the number of operations that will be under way at the construction zone, so they plan to "saturate" the area with troopers, starting in June.
In fact, Nothum said a day to emphasize slower driving through the zone deliberately will be conducted by highway patrol officers on June 19. "We'd like to keep everyone safe, and need drivers to be extra careful this summer. We've already lost way too many lives in work zones. Accidents in work zones change lives, no matter if you are the victim or the one who caused the crash."
"Driving here in this zone is going to be different, and will continuously change. It's not going to be natural for drivers to make some of the changes that will be required. Motorists already drive too fast down Antire Hill under normal conditions. They should pay extra attention to the signals that will be placed here during the summer," said Hassinger.
Hassinger told Patch it will be imperative drivers understand they will change work patterns in this portion of I-44 throughout the summer. He also said while westbound I-44 will be diverted to eastbound during a particular portion, they plan to reopen a third westbound lane during rush hour traffic between 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays to help the flow.
He said drivers may benefit from viewing changing work patterns on the MoDOT website so they can visualize the flow before driving through it. He said drive times during this zone may be increased by up to 30 minutes at certain day or night periods.
The majority of work on this project is expected to be completed by mid-September.