October 21, 2016
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St. Louis Celebrates Historic Eads Bridge Rehab

Leaders from Bi-State Development (operator of St. Louis Metro), FTA representatives and officials from Illinois and Missouri recently celebrated the reopening of the historic 142-year-old Eads Bridge, the oldest bridge still in operation across the Mississippi River, following a $48 million comprehensive rehabilitation project.

The bridge, which daily carries 300 MetroLink light rail cars, passenger cars and pedestrians, provides a critical link between downtown St. Louis, MO, and East St. Louis, IL, and is the only MetroLink connection between the two states.

“At the original dedication of the Eads Bridge on July 4, 1874, James B. Eads declared that the bridge would endure, just so long as it continues to be useful to the people who come after us,” said Bi-State President and Chief Executive Officer John Nations. “He could scarcely have imagined that, after 142 years of changes in society, in our region, in our landscapes and in our patterns of travel and movement, his bridge would still have a critically useful function for our region, our states and our country.”

The rehabilitation is expected to extend its life of the bridge for another 75 years. The light rail line continued to operate across the bridge during the four-year rehabilitation process, said Metro Executive Director Ray Friem, who recognized the planners and workers who helped minimize the project’s impact on passengers and commuters crossing by car.

“The team was able to achieve a continuous operation and a beautiful restoration of the bridge,” said Friem. “We kept the train moving over this beautiful river we are standing on. During the process, we had to overcome many unknowns. It was a 140-year-old bridge, with different technologies that had inaccurate drawings. I want to take a moment to recognize the people who made this possible. Today, we celebrate you, your accomplishments, your skills and your courage to work high above this raging river in order to unify a region, unite two states and build this bridge to and for the future.”

Highlights of the celebration included speakers who described the critical role of the bridge in the region’s transportation system and tours on MetroLink for an up-close look at the bridge rehabilitation and preservation effort.

Federal funds supported 91 percent of the cost, including a $27 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant. The city of St. Louis contributed $4.8 million in federal funds and grants and the remaining costs were covered by local funds. TranSystems was the design engineering firm on the project.

Metro Executive Director Ray Friem, third from left, and Bi-State President and CEO John Nations, right, join other officials at the reopening of the Eads Bridge in St. Louis.

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