The Old Orchard Advisory Commission met Tuesday to discuss details surrounding a yearlong operation to demolish and reconstruct Murdoch Bridge over the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad in Webster Groves.
According to Engineering consultant Robert E. Polk of the Farnsworth Group, the existing bridge does not meet state or federal requirements for railroad clearance.
"The city was successful at obtaining 80 percent federal matching funds to construct a new bridge," Polk said. "The bridge has many conditions that indicate that it's served its lifetime. It was built in 1930 and it's ready to be taken down."
Polk presented an anticipated schedule that will begin in June 2011 with the approval of federal plans and obligation of federal funds.
The demolition of the existing bridge is scheduled to take place in November 2011 with ongoing construction lasting until the new bridge opens in May 2012.
"Our design team has several different players," Polk said. "We have a railroad consultant on our team, and we have Access Engineering's Marie Dennis who handles this project's public involvement, public engagement and traffic management."
Based on her research, Dennis observed that local traffic patterns would be interrupted during the construction process.
"Part of the time, Murdoch will need to be closed between the westbound I-44 on-ramp and Big Bend Boulevard," Dennis said. "There will be no through traffic there."
Polk and Dennis presented detour plans that will streamline the flow of traffic near westbound I-44 and Murdoch Avenue.
"Users who would typically use I-44 eastbound would be advised west of Elm Avenue to get off at Elm, and then we would direct them over to Big Bend Boulevard in order to get to the business district," Dennis said.
Polk's engineering team plans to notify drivers as far in advance as possible about the impending construction period in an effort to prevent traffic congestion near the Old Orchard Business District and the I-44 westbound on-ramp.
"Another path that we anticipate being interrupted is northbound Laclede Station Road into Old Orchard Business District," Dennis said. "We would recommend directing Laclede Station traffic south of Jackson, having them head west on Jackson to Edgar and Big Bend."
Westbound Murdoch to Old Orchard users will be diverted even further, detouring south on Laclede Station Road to Jackson Road to Edgar Road and then finally to Big Bend Boulevard, according to Dennis.
During the last month of the anticipated six-month construction period, temporary nighttime only detours will be implemented for I-44 westbound ramp closures.
"During nighttime construction, people who are using the roads will be advised by dynamic message signs for a couple different detours," Polk said. "It won't impact that daytime high volume traffic during this process."