Fox 2 learned a critical St. Louis bridge project is now behind schedule. But that could be good news.
The Grand Boulevard Bridge in Midtown will re-open in mid-June, about a month later than planned.
Rich Bradley, President of the City of St. Louis Board of Public Service, said it could be a lot worse.
The shutdown of Grand just south of Highway 40 has been for drivers and pedestrians.
It went into effect just before the bridge was demolished last March, cutting North St. Louis off from South St. Louis on Grand, one of the city`s most heavily traveled and most historically significant roadways.
'We ran into a couple of problems. The bridge spans Mill Creek Valley ,' Bradley said.
Things change from the time you draw up a project on paper to the time you actually start building something.
Workers ran into things like poor soil quality in Mill Creek Valley. So, under part of the bridge, even the ground had to be rebuilt.
A critical water line needed replacing through the maze of train tracks under the bridge.
The mild Winter nearly made up for all of the delays.
'We are probably about 70% complete with the bridge,' Bradley said, remarkable given the difference between all the that was going up in the place of what was taken down.
'What you had before, you basically had a bridge that was 3 lanes in each direction; you had very narrow sidewalks. It was very dimly lit; not very negotiable, not very inviting to the general public,' Bradley said.
The old bridge was falling apart with chunks of concrete dropping. Bus drivers and anyone else dropping people off to use the Metrolink station below the bridge had to pull over and stop in a traffic lane on Grand.
The new bridge will have 'turn out lanes' to drop people off - out of traffic. There will be bike lanes, too.
Then there`s the 'look' of it all: decorative touches from Fleur de Lee symbols in the iron work on the bridge railings to 4 towers or piers, rising high above the bridge pavement.
'Construction of the towers, the landscape median, sidewalk work, railing, lighting, things like that... some of the features of this bridge are reminiscent of the bridge that was there in the 1800`s,' Bradley said.
Along with the $22 million bridge overhaul, there`s the $9 million upgrade of the Metrolink plaza below the bridge. It will incorporate lighting and public art similar from an artist known for sprucing up public transportation centers.
'It will be very grand when it is completed. It will be here for a long time,' Bradley said. 'The current bridge that was there was over 50 years old. So we feel this bridge will certainly last that long.'
The new bridge will have 2 lanes of traffic in each direction. The old bridge had three.
The plan is to have one lane of the bridge open in each direction by mid-June, with total project completion coming in the Fall.
Follow me: on Twitter@andybankertv