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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Ronald Wilson Reagan Memorial Bridge
Proposed I-70 Mississippi River Crossing At Saint Louis
Saint Louis, Missouri

New Mississippi River Bridge

• Location: River Mile 180.9.
• River Elevation: 385 Feet.
• Highway: I-70 (Proposed).
• Bridge Type: Cable Stayed.
• Length: 2,803 Feet Overall, 1,500 Foot Main Span.
• Width: 175 Feet Per Span, 4 Lanes Per Span.
• Navigation Channel Width: 1,450 Feet (Estimated).
• Height Above Water: 75 Feet.
• Date Built: Construction began in 2009.
• Project Web Site: New Mississippi River Bridge.
Saint Louis has a shortage in the number of highway lanes that cross the Mississippi River. To address that problem, it has been proposed to move I-70 off of the Popular Street Bridge and build a new I-70 cable stayed bridge just north of downtown. This new river crossing was officially named the Ronald Wilson Reagan Memorial Bridge on August 28, 2005.

The project went through a design phase that picked a sleek cable stayed bridge and associated highway projects totaling $1.6-billion. The bridge featured a 2,000 foot main span that entirely cleared the Mississippi River. The key architectural feature would be the two slender towers soaring 510 feet into the air configured to arch back away from the river, with an asymmetrical cable arrangement.

In late 2005, both states decided that the costs were simply not feasible. As a result, a year long bridge redesign was undertaken. A new more conventional cable stay bridge with two towers at each end emerged. It will be symmetrical with a 1,500 foot main span. As of late 2006, construction is scheduled to start early in 2007. The completion date depends on funding levels from year to year, which is approved by the states on a yearly basis.

As of early 2007, Congress has provided $280-million for the bridge. That leaves the states of Missouri and Illinois to come up with about $700-million to complete the bridge. Illinois is ready to go, but Missouri is not willing to spend the money, claiming that there are more important highway projects in the state that need to be funded. Illinois has even offered to loan Missouri the money to get the bridge started, but so far, no deal has been agreed upon.

Update—as of 2008, a new plan is in the works. The original I-70 project and bridge will be broken into two projects, an initial project, and a future full concept project. The initial project is to build one half of the bridge, a short segment of I-70 freeway on a new alignment, and a minimal set of ramps to connect the bridge and highway to the existing highway network. The full concept will add a second parallel bridge span, complete the new alignment for I-70, and fill out the remaining freeway ramps on the various interchanges. This will hopefully address the existing traffic problems without having to fund the entire project in one shot.

Update— as of May 2009, construction work on the Illinois side of the river has begun. The initial project is fully funded at this time and is expected to move forward on schedule. Notably absent from the project web site is the previously announced bridge name. Perhaps that name is being revisited with the change of political parties running Congress and living in the White House?

Update—a groundbreaking ceremony for the bridge project was scheduled for February 26, 2010. However, due to severe winter weather, the flights out of Washington, DC, that were to carry federal officials and members of Congress were canceled. As a result, the ceremony was canceled. It is planned to be rescheduled at a later date.

Note—the renderings on this page are borrowed from the New River Bridge web site. The rendering above is the 2008 bridge concept where only one span of the 2006 bridge concept is planned to be built in the initial project. A later full concept project is proposed to add the second parallel bridge span.

New Mississippi River Bridge
These two rendering are the modified 2005 design. It features two large 400-foot tall inverted V towers on each side of the Mississippi River. The main span is proposed to be 1,500 feet long, making it the third longest bridge span in the United States. The rendering above is looking upriver from the Missouri side of the river. The rendering below is a view looking downriver towards the Eads, King, Dickman, and MacArthur bridges.

New Mississippi River Bridge
New Mississippi River Bridge
The rendering above is the original bridge concept. It features a massive set of slanted towers set on each riverbank with bridge decks set on each side of the 510-foot tall towers. The main river span would have been over 2,000 feet. The map below outlines the location of the new bridge, and the plan for relocating I-70 to the north of the Eads and King bridges. The old path used by I-70 will be redesignated as I-44. The fate of the section of I-70 along the Saint Louis side of the river has not yet been determined. It has been proposed to convert that section of heavily traveled highway into a lower speed boulevard.

New Mississippi River Bridge

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