- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) - The Martin Luther King Bridge connecting East St. Louis to St. Louis is set to reopen after being closed for construction.

The bridge crossing the Mississippi River is scheduled to reopen to traffic the week of Dec. 21, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1Xp6Dqs ) reports. The bridge has been closed since July 20 for a $15.9 million reconstruction project, which includes removal of its deck, replacing the middle truss span, steel structural repairs and painting.

Lora Rensing, acting project implementation engineer for the Illinois Department of Transportation, said officials met Monday and pinpointed a timeline to reopen the bridge. Rensing said an exact date for the reopening hasn’t been set, and that short-term closures on weekends and nights could still happen to finish work such as removing scaffolding.

The bridge was set to tentatively close from July 6 through Nov. 24, with the timeline contingent on all westbound lanes of the Poplar Street Bridge being reopened. But that was delayed by rainy weather.

Nearly 27,000 drivers used the Martin Luther King Bridge daily.

The Illinois Department of Transportation had planned to shut down the bridge in summer 2014 to do construction. But the project was put on hold after a bid for the work came in about $3 million higher than expected by transportation officials.

Originally known as Veterans Memorial Bridge in 1951, the bridge was built by East St. Louis for $10.5 million and was used as a toll bridge. Tolls went away in 1987, the year the bridge went under the control of Illinois.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com


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