IDOT continues construction, repairing I-24 Bridge bearings
More delays for your commute: Construction crews started work on the I-24 bridge again last week, and will continue into the winter.
Eastbound — toward Nashville — is now reduced to one lane. The Illinois Department of Transportation says the closure should be lifted by about Nov. 16, but you’ll see restrictions westbound after that.
There’s been a lot of work on that bridge lately, but the construction crews are working on the bridge’s bearings. Bearings are the pieces of metal that anchor the bridge to the piers and allow for safe contraction and expansion in changing weather, but those who use the bridge every day say the regular delays are getting tedious.
Charles Mackey lives in Kentucky but works in Illinois. He says he’s gotten used to the orange barrels and managing his time across the I-24 bridge. He says he sees more traffic in the afternoon, but where he sees the most trouble is convincing and scheduling his customers to make the trip to service their cars.
"Me being me, I’m going to tell them, ‘Anyway, I’m worth it,’" Mackey says.
Keith Roberts, the project engineer with IDOT, says they discovered the need to fix the bearings while finishing up another project. Roberts says the bearings are a complicated fix.
"These lane closures are designed to keep live loads off when we physically jack the structure to put bearings on," Roberts says.
But if you don’t see any workers on the bridge, it’s because they’re working underneath it.
Roberts says this is one of six construction phases. He says although it’s inconvenient, it’s a small inconvenience compared to closing the bridge entirely.
"We’ve done a lot of work in the structure. (It’s) a huge structure. It requires a lot of maintenance," Roberts says.
Like the service repairs Mackey sees, he says they can handle it, "it gets to be frustrating, but you gotta do what you gotta do."
Roberts says the bridge will see restrictions westbound towards Illinois for about three weeks after this round, but he says all lanes should be open and restrictions lifted by Thanksgiving and into the holiday season.
There was some trouble with holiday travel before, but Roberts says this time around they added some clauses to the construction contract where they could keep the lanes open during that busy season.
Roberts says a St. Louis construction company is replacing the bearings for $4.6 million. He says the entire project should be completed by July 4.