St. Charles, Mo (KSDK) -- The Missouri Department of Transportation will start making preparations Friday for the closures of the westbound I-70 Blanchette Missouri River Bridge on November 5.
MoDOT will be performing $63 million in major rehabilitation to the 54-year-old westbound bridge.
The Blanchette Bridge will be reduced from 10 lanes to six lanes, three in each direction, until the fall of 2013.
To get both directions of I-70 traffic moved onto the eastbound I-70 bridge, construction crews will be working around the clock this weekend. Only two lanes will be open on I-70 this weekend and there will be a few hours on Sunday when the westbound exits to Earth City Expressway and the westbound exits to Fifth Street will be closed. The exact timing on Sunday is unknown.
Details of closures this weekend:
Friday, November 2:
• Eastbound I-70, two lanes closed at noon from Route 94 to the St Louis County end of bridge
• Ramp from northbound Fifth Street to eastbound I-70 closes at noon (this is a permanent closure until fall of 2013)
• Westbound I-70, 1 lane closed at 8 p.m. from Earth City Expressway to Fifth Street
• Eastbound I-70 will be reduced again at 10 p.m. so only two lanes are open until 5 a.m. Monday
Saturday, November 3:
• Westbound I-70 reduced so only 2 lanes are open until 5 a.m. Monday
Sunday, November 4:
• Westbound ramps at Earth City and at Fifth Street will be closed for several hours. The exact time for these ramp closures is not known. Drivers should be prepared for anytime on Sunday that the exits could be closed. They will have to exit westbound at Route 94/First Capitol to either take the outer road back to Fifth Street or take the eastbound ramp to I-70 to get back to Earth City.
Drivers are advised to use Route 370 or Route 364 instead of I-70 this weekend. Significant delays are expected on I-70 with only two lanes open in each direction. Earth City Expressway and downtown St. Charles are accessible from either Route 370 or Route 364. For more information on the project, visit MoDOT's website.
There are questions about how the bridge closure will affect emergency crews. MoDOT spokesperson Linda Wilson Horn says the department has been working on a plan with first responders on both sides of the bridge for more than a year.
Wilson Horn says the Fifth Street ramp to I-70 will be blocked by a gate that can be opened to allow emergency vehicles easy access to the bridge. In the most extreme situations eastbound I-70 would be closed to allow emergency crews east of the Missouri river to respond in a westbound direction.
Trooper Justin Wheetley with the Missouri Highway Patrol expects the bridge project to cause some traffic snarls, but says the slow downs for emergency vehicles should be minimal.