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Views From The Temporarily Closed Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge (16 photos)

June 16, 2020 Featured No Comments

In my nearly three decades of living in St. Louis I’ve crossed the Mississippi River on the MLK Bridge many times.

The bridge was built across the Mississippi River in 1951 as the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge to relieve congestion on the MacArthur Bridge to the south. Built as a toll bridge, it was owned by the City of East St. Louis. At one time, it carried U.S. Route 40 and U.S. Route 66 across the river. In 1967, the bridge fell into disrepair after the (free) Poplar Street Bridge was completed; traffic moved to the new bridge, resulting in declining toll revenues needed for maintenance.

Eventually, ownership was transferred dually to the Missouri and Illinoisdepartments of Transportation and the bridge was renamed after Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, after the national civil rights leader was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1987, the states removed the toll for travel across the bridge. A bi-state project for about $24 million to renovate the bridge, at the behest of local civic and government leaders, was carried out in the late 1980s. In the spring of 1989, the rebuilt bridge was reopened. In June 1990, the lighting of the bridge was completed by the St. Louis Port Authority. In the 21st century it is considered an important contributor to satisfying the transportation needs of the region and enhancing the ambiance of the historic St. Louis riverfront. (Wikipedia)

Recently I’ve crossed the river on the MLK using my power wheelchair. This wasn’t dangerous since it closed to traffic in 2018 for maintenance and work on an approach in Illinois. The reopening has been pushed back as flooding last year delayed the work.

After a friend/regular reader walked across the bridge I decided to give it a try as well. I knew from her description that I couldn’t easily get to the south (eastbound) lanes. I had to first roll along the north lanes (westbound), go into Illinois where the concrete center divider sections had been removed, then go back along the south lanes to get great views of the Eads Bridge, Arch, Laclede’s Landing, etc.

I’ve done it twice now, once late evening and the other in the morning. The lighting is different.  I took lots of photos on both trips, but here are 8 from each — in chronological oder.

Tuesday April 21, 2020

You can see my shadow, just before 7pm.
Looking north
I finally reached an opening in the center divider
Looking back toward Missouri
Looking down at Laclede’s Landing
A barge pushing upriver after passing under the Eads Bridge
I was shocked to see occupied houses on low land just north of the bridge approach in Illinois.
Looking north at the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Saturday May 23, 2020

You can see sections where the concrete paving was replaced.
Obligatory Arch & skyline view, sans barge.
In the center you can see the new pocket park under construction on the Laclede’s Landing side of the Eads Bridge, the site of the former Switzer Building. More on this in a future post.
The Illinois side is shockingly barren and flat. A few remnants of industry remain.
One of the reasons the MLK bridge has been closed was this work in Illinois on the roads that approach the bridge.
This month I noticed a change, looks like forming for new bases for new light fixtures.
Looking north again. The north flood gate was still closed.

I may go across again before it reopens to vehicles, it would be nice if the public was invited to cross the bridge the weekend before it reopens.

— Steve Patterson

 

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