Rehabilitation of Eads Bridge has taken 10 years and $25 million. /Michael C. Snell

Massive rehab of Eads Bridge is nearing completion

Published: Sep/Oct 2002

Tom Behan, chief construction engineer for St. Louis, knows Eads Bridge up close and personal. He’s in charge of the bridge’s rehabilitation project that’s taken almost 10 years and $25 million to complete. Now, the work is nearing its end.

At press time, with land secured, work on the eastern approach to the bridge was getting ready to begin, paving the way for completion as early as November or December this year, provided everything goes as planned, Behan said.

Like the construction of the bridge, the rehab project has had several delays, including the Great Flood of 1993. When construction of the western approach started in 1999, workers toiled in the evening after the last MetroLink trains passed and worked until 4 a.m. The bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic since 1991.

Through the challenges, Behan continues to be amazed at James Eads’ creation.

“It’s remarkable how well it’s held up,” he said. “What amazes me is on a hot, sunny day the south side of the bridge expands due to the heat and actually lifts up four to five inches on that side. It’s a unique design.”

The span will have two lanes for motor vehicles in each direction. Outer lanes can be closed during special events to allow for pedestrians. A sidewalk on the south side will allow for pedestrians and bicyclists year-round.

Behan said Thanksgiving is the targeted date for finishing the project but if concrete’s not poured before winter, then the completion would be pushed back to spring 2003. Given the nine years and $6.5 million it took to build the bridge, you get the feeling Eads would sympathize with the workers and the deadline.

“Guys who have been on the project since the beginning want to build something Eads would be proud of. They want it to be usable for many years to come,” Behan said.

– Deborah Reinhardt

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