Plans for a new bridge spanning the Mississippi River just north of the current Chester bridge were outlined by Missouri Department of Transportation officials at a recent Chester Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Buddy Desai, vice president of Missouri Transportation and Jason Williams, Department of Transportation project manager, told the audience at the Sept. 18 chamber meeting that the preferred plan of three options being discussed would be one to be built about 50 to 75 feet upstream from the current bridge. That plan, which has a $191 million cost, features two 12-foot lanes and 8 to 12 foot shoulders. The bridge project would include the Horse Island Chute.
Funding for the project would be 20 percent from the states of Missouri and Illinois and 80 percent from the Federal government.
"Absolute funding has not been identified at this time," they said.
The projected life span for the bridge would be around 75 years, Desai said. When asked why a four-lane bridge was not considered, Desai said that approximately 6,000 vehicles cross the Chester bridge daily and that number does not warrant a four-lane bridge.
The officials said all three alternatives were evaluated, taking into consideration issues such as costs, safety aspects and impact to land. Throughout the process, there has been coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard regarding river navigation channels. Information and assistance have also come from a community advisory group that first met in March 2018.
Final approval of the project will occur after the Federal Highway Administration reviews and approves the project's Environmental Assessment, which is expected in early 2019.
"Until this happens, there is still a possibility that plans could change," they said.
The fourth Chester Bridge Study Citizens Advisory Group will meet in the near future. At this meeting, it is anticipated that factors will be outlined that will lead to the absolute identification of Alternative U-1, as earlier described.
The speakers said the current Chester bridge is considered to be "safe but in poor condition." They estimate that, with continued maintenance, it could be usable for 10 years or more and that current bridge is assessed annually.