Heat Forces New Mississippi Bridge To Be Joined Together At Night

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- The new Mississippi River Bridge may be joined together for the first time in a month, but the process will not happen in the light of day.

Randy Hitt a MODOT engineer is in charge of the bridge project.  He said, "The plan right now is in the middle of the night about 2 o`clock in the morning."

It was a similar situation at the Gateway Arch. When the last piece was hoisted into place more than 40 years ago the temperature caused problems.  The sun was heating up the structure, workers sprayed water on it to cool it down so both legs would meet precisely with the final piece.

Upstream at the Mississippi Bridge they are also concerned about the sun so they will join the two sides together in the moon light.  Hitt said, "When the ambient temperature is good so the sun doesn`t heat up the one side of the bridge and maybe kind of warp so we can get all the bolt holes to line up perfectly."

When the bridge is completed in early 2014 some 40,000 cars are expected to use it each day. Workers are almost done stringing the cables which hold up the bridge. They look white, that`s a protective coating and there are as many as 73 individual cables inside each one.  Hitt added, "They are about the size of the diameter of a penny and there`s about 3 million total feet of cable in the project."

Fifty thousand cubic yards of concrete are used in the construction process. Some 75 workers have been building the new bridge that is 2800 feet long. They are on schedule for an on-time completion they were two weeks ahead but spring flooding slowed the process.