ST. LOUIS, Mo. – MoDOT determined an updated schedule to complete construction on the eastbound I-44 bridge over the BNSF railroad near Shrewsbury.
The construction on the bridge was suspended by MoDOT in November in order for the department to analyze a concern with “greater than usual cracking on the westbound I-44 bridge” which was in the same area of construction. According to MoDOT, the bridge is safe, but the unusual amount of cracking will limit the useful life of the bridge.
In early January, MoDOT received a complex report which analyzed the westbound bridge.
“The report states that the bridge, as designed, was not able to appropriately handle the thermal expansion forces – the forces when the bridges expand and contract due to heating and cooling,” MoDOT said.
In fall of 2017, the bridge deck was placed. Then, the cracking got worse as temperatures warmed up during the spring and summer of 2018.
“After we and the contractor were able to review the report and the supporting data, we were able to determine an updated schedule for the project,” Tom Blair, district engineer for MoDOT St. Louis, said.
The contractor team is currently working on an updated design which will address the original bridge deficiencies. MoDOT said the design should be completed and reviewed by the end of March.
Once the design is reviewed, crews will be able to complete construction of the eastbound bridge which is projected to take until mid-summer.
When the eastbound bridge is complete and reopened to traffic, crews will then work on making the necessary repairs to the westbound bridge, which is projected to be completed by mid-fall. Although repairs will be made, MoDOT ensures the public that the westbound bridge is still safe to use.
“We will continue to work with our contractor to quickly resolve all of the design and construction issues on this project,” Blair said. “Everyone understands the urgency of the traffic situation.”
Blair said the contractor team is committed to providing the resources that are necessary to correct any deficiencies that are found. He also said the team is committed to complete the project in a timely manner.
“MoDOT will work closely with them to expedite the bridge work and get traffic back on eastbound I-44,” Blair said.