Local officials praised the start of construction on a new span of the I-64 Daniel Boone Bridge as the culmination of many years' worth of effort at a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday.
The ceremony included officials from the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission and MoDOT along with federal, state and local elected officials and area business leaders.
"There are a lot of people who have worked hard for a long time to get to this point," MoDOT District Engineer Ed Hassinger said.
The Daniel Boone Bridge crosses the Missouri River and connects Chesterfield to St. Charles County. The new $110.9 million span will replace the almost 80-year-old, narrower westbound portion of the bridge, which was constructed in 1935.
The new bridge is expected to open late in 2014 with the entire project finished by late 2015. MoDOT's plan is to construct the new bridge just upstream, or due west, of the 1935 structure, which will then be torn down when it is completed. At that point, the traffic flow will switch.
"The current eastbound bridge will become the westbound bridge and the new one will be the new eastbound bridge," said Hassinger.
Hassinger said because two bridges will likely remain open for the entirety of the project, traffic disruptions should be minimal. He also said construction companies had informed him that low water levels from this summer's drought should not pose any significant problems
Chesterfield Mayor Bruce Geiger also spoke during the groundbreaking ceremony Thursday morning and said the upgraded bridge is good news for the city's economy.
"I know the residents of St. Louis County and especially Chesterfield are excited about having an easier access for all those St. Charles people to come in to Chesterfield and shop," he said.
The new bridge will look similar to the Chain of Rocks Bridge in north St. Louis County, without the familiar steel upper framework.
A biking/walking lane on the new bridge will connect the Monarch Levee Trail on the St. Louis side to the Katy Trail on the St. Charles side, and the trail will have a "bump-out" where people can stand and enjoy the view of the Missouri River.
When the project is complete, both the new westbound bridge and the existing 1980s bridge will have four lanes and shoulders, with the westbound fourth lane starting at the Chesterfield Airport Road entrance ramp and continuing to the Route 94 exit.
A new Chesterfield Airport Road interchange will connect the North Outer Road to the westbound I-64 on ramp.