New Mighty Miss Span Will Be Third Longest in U.S.

Thu August 16, 2012 - Midwest Edition
Jennifer Rupp

Crews work in the yard to build the massive panels used as part of the driving surface for the NMRB.
Crews work in the yard to build the massive panels used as part of the driving surface for the NMRB.
Crews work in the yard to build the massive panels used as part of the driving surface for the NMRB. Buckets of concrete being delivered to the top of the Illinois Tower are just a small portion of the 50,000 cu. yds. (38,227 cu m) of concrete needed for the bridge project. The bridge towers on the Illinois and Missouri sides of the Mississippi River stand 400 ft.(122 m) tall.

The New Mississippi River Bridge (NMRB) project is a four-year construction project to build a cable-stayed bridge across the Mississippi River between downtown St. Louis and St. Clair County, Illinois. This new bridge will move Interstate 70 off the Poplar Street Bridge (which currently carries three interstates and is the only interstate bridge into downtown St. Louis).

This will be the first bridge built connecting downtown St. Louis and southwestern Illinois in more than 40 years. Currently, the only urban interstate bridge between Illinois and Missouri is the Poplar Street Bridge, known locally as the PSB. The PSB is one of two bridges in the United States that carry three interstates. By relocating one interstate (I-70) from the Poplar Street Bridge to the new Mississippi River Bridge, drivers will experience less congestion, fewer crashes and less unnecessary fuel use.

The $667 million project includes a landmark bridge structure, and the realignment and reconstruction of Interstate 70 and numerous local roads on both sides of the state line. Capital for the job is comprised of Illinois, Missouri and Federal funding.

The four main components of the project are:

• Missouri North I-70 Interchange — A roadway connection between the existing I-70 and the new bridge, with further connections to the local street system at Cass Avenue. ($57 million)

• Mississippi River Bridge — A new 4-lane bridge one mile north of the Martin Luther King Bridge. ($346 million)

• Illinois I-70 Connection — A roadway connection between the existing I-55/64/70 Tri-Level Interchange and the main span.

• Illinois Tri-Level Interchange — Improvements at the I-55/64/70 Tri-Level Interchange in East St. Louis which will connect to the I-70 Connection leading to the main span. (Both Illinois sections: $264 million).

In order to complete a project of this magnitude, many agencies have banned together to achieve the goal. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), and the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) are at the helm.

HNTB Corporation has designed and provided construction documents for the new cable stayed bridge across the Mississippi River. They also designed the approaches to connect to the downtown St. Louis interchange and the Illinois I-70 connector project. Other portions of the NMRB project have been designed by Crawford, Murphy & Tilly Inc., TENG Associates (now Exp.) and AECOM.

The NMRB will be a 1,500 ft. (457.2 m) cable-stayed bridge across the Mississippi River between Metro East and St. Louis, Missouri. The bridge is two lanes in each direction, but is wide enough to be restriped for three lanes in each direction if traffic volumes warrant and additional funding is secured.

The cable stayed concept was designed in the late 16th century, but has become very popular over the past few decades around the world. With a cable stayed bridge, the cables support the bridge deck (the roadway).

These cables are connected to one or more towers that are built in the middle of the bridge. With a main span of 1,500 ft., the New Mississippi River Bridge will be the third longest in the country.

Massman Construction, Traylor Brothers and Alberici Constructors (MTA) have formed a joint venture to construct the main span of the NMRB.

“The weight of the main span is 31 million pounds, or 3,370 elephants,” joked Greg Horn, Mississippi River Bridge director. The entire bridge calls for 600 mi. (966 km) of cable, 50,000 cu. yds. (38,228 cu m) of concrete, 4,000 tons (3,629 t) of reinforcing steel and 7,500 tons (6,804 t) of structural steel.

Massman Construction is utilizing its Manitowoc 7000 crane on the main span project. When the 900-ton crane arrived, crews attached the 60-ft. (18.3 m) jib on site. Massman has worked on many other notable bridge projects, including the Biloxi Bay Bridge in Mississippi, the Huey P. Long Bridge in Louisiana and the William Emerson Mississippi River Bridge in Missouri.

A number of local companies are completing work in Missouri for the NMRB project, namely Fred Weber Inc. and Millstone-Bangert Inc.

Keeley and Sons Inc. and Keller Construction Inc., have created a joint venture to construct the Illinois Approach for the Mississippi River Bridge. Other general contractors incorporated on the Illinois side are Fred Weber Inc., Halverson Construction and Baxmeyer Construction.

Contracts on both the Missouri and Illinois sides were awarded in late 2009, with work beginning in early 2010. However, when the Mississippi River reached flood level, work was brought to a halt for 88 days. When it was safe to work again, crews went full-speed ahead, working 10-hour days and 10-hour nights, 6 days a week for almost a year and a half to get back on track. Currently, the project is running on schedule and will be complete in January 2014.

To follow the progress on the New Mississippi River Bridge, visit

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