I knew this bridge during the last 30 years of its existence. It never was much to look at, little more than a continuation of Grand Ave that was raised above the railroad tracks. At that tme the bridge was already failing with rusted expansion joints and railings, although SLU painted the railings SLU blue. There were several places where rain or snow melt ponded on the roadway. When buses went through the puddles, they sent soaking sheets of dirty water onto the pedestrian walkways and any pedestrian who happened to be there. In winter time the sprayed areas became coated with ice and dangerous. After the metrolink stations were added, busses and cars stopping for passangers would block the outer lanes of traffic on the bridge creating congestion.
I was glad to see the bridge replaced. The new bridge is nicer, but I wish I could have seen the 1891 bridge. I read that there had been an earlier bridge located down in Mill Creek Valley. It was not very large and just extended across Mill Creek. From the description, Grand Ave descended from Forest Park Ave into the valley, crossed railroad tracks and the creek before it became part of the sewer system. Grand then ascended to Chouteau Ave. It is understandable why the raised bridge was built.
The replacement UCEB is scheduled to open on 20120714. Work has been delayed due to work on the steel towers that mimic a part of the 1891 suspension bridge.
Once the bridge has been closed, the northbound #70 bus would detour to the east along Chouteau and then continue north on 18th Street in order to make a connection with the MetroLink at Union Station.
KMOV aired a story Tuesday March 1st, that the bridge will be closing on Monday March 14th for at least one year, possibly as long as two years. Removing the bridge will be complex because there are four active railroad tracks running beneath the bridge: two for rail freight, and two for MetroLink. Maybe Kozeny-Wagner will use the same "controlled demolition" method as was used to remove the old Highway 40 bridge (1940) at Clayton / Warson roads (the new I-64 project).
Story aired yesterday on KMOV TV Channel 4 that this bridge is closing for demolition, and asks motorists to begin looking for an alternate route. On the west side of the closure, motorists heading north on Grand can use Chouteau, Vandeventer and Forest Park Parkway to return to Grand Avenue. Motorists can also use either the Compton Avenue or Jefferson Avenue viaduct to the east of the closure.
Here is the link to the St. Louis Business Journal story about the bridge replacement:
Along with replacement of the Grand Avenue Viaduct, Metro (the St. Louis area mass transit system) will be involved with the rebuilding and redesign of the Grand MetroLink station. See this link for info:
Heard on News/Radio KMOX 1120 AM on its January 7th, 2011 edition: "The St. Louis Business Journal Report" segment reported that Kozeny-Wagner Construction Co. was awarded the construction contract for replacement of the Grand Avenue viaduct.
This bridge was built in 1959 and I would have to call it an engineering failure. So many vehicles use this bridge on a daily basis. The driving surface of this bridge was notorious for its POTHOLES...yes, I said on the driving surface. Now it is paved over to hide the potholes. The sidewalk is also inadequate since the city installed concrete barricades on the sidewalks. In fact, while I was out photographing this bridge I noticed an expansion joint cover and a large hole you could see down through to the street below.
This bridge serves as a vital link for the St. Louis University campus. The main learning campus is on the north, the hospital and various dormitories reside on the south. When it is rebuilt, I hope dedicated access is given to MetroBus when it boards and alights passengers.