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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Poplar Street Bridge
I-55/I-64/I-70 Mississippi River Crossing At Saint Louis
Saint Louis, Missouri

Poplar Street Bridge

• Structure ID: NBI 000082000417878.
• Location: River Mile 179.2.
• River Elevation: 384 Feet.
• Highway: I-55, I-64, And I-70.
• Daily Traffic Count: 121,000 (2003).
• Bridge Type: Steel Girder With Concrete Deck.
• Length: 2,164 Feet Overall, 600 Foot Main Span.
• Width: 104 Feet, 8 Lanes.
• Navigation Channel Width: 580 Feet.
• Height Above Water: 92 Feet.
• Date Built: Opened November 9, 1967.
The Poplar Street Bridge is a rather blah looking structure for such an important traffic route into such a major city. The lanes and roadway on the Illinois side is a maze of twisting, turning, and up/down lane motion that would make even a die-hard roller coaster fan take interest. The bridge itself is narrow and has no shoulders. The Missouri side ends abruptly in the bowels of downtown Saint Louis at sharp Y-exit where I-70 breaks right and I-55 breaks left. Add in enough traffic to make this possibly the 3rd most used Mississippi River crossing, you have a recipe for monumental traffic jams.

Saint Louis and the two state transportation departments are engaged in discussions on how to solve the bridge lane shortage in the Saint Louis metro area. One proposal is to build a huge new cable stayed bridge, and route I-70 traffic to the new bridge. That may prove to be too costly. Other alternatives include adding ramps to allow the Martin Luther King bridge to be used by freeway traffic, and adding a second span to the Poplar Street Bridge.

Road geeks marvel in that this is one of the few locations where three different interstate highways share the same roadway, let alone three 2-digit interstates. Another such location is the I-39/I-90/I-94 triplex in Dane and Columbia Counties, Wisconsin, north of the city of Madison. There is some controversy about I-44, which also runs through Saint Louis. Missouri marks the end of I-44 where it meets I-55, several miles short of this bridge. Illinois, however, marks the start of I-44 at the state line near the center of this bridge. If one were to take the Illinois point of view, the western section of this bridge actually carries four two-digit interstate highways.

The official name of this bridge, Bernard F. Dickman, is largely unknown. Mr. Dickman was mayor of Saint Louis in the 1930s. The local news media began referring to this bridge as the East Poplar Street Bridge well before it was completed, naming the bridge after a local street that it crossed. This bridge carried the US-66 designation from 1967 to 1977.

The next eight photos show a typical crossing of the Poplar Street Bridge from Illinois heading west into Saint Louis, and ending up on southbound I-55. In the first photo, our entrance ramp joins the bridge approach by threading through the support piers of the railroad trestle leading to the McArthur Bridge. In the final photo, we cross under a railroad bridge that is carrying a coal unit train that is crossing the McArthur bridge heading into Saint Louis. Also notice the four different interstate highway numbers on the big green signs, I-44, I-55, I-64, and I-70.

Poplar Street Bridge
Poplar Street Bridge
Poplar Street Bridge
Poplar Street Bridge
Poplar Street Bridge
Poplar Street Bridge
Poplar Street Bridge
Poplar Street Bridge

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Authored by John A. Weeks III, Copyright © 1996—2016, all rights reserved.
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