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The New Mississippi River Bridge Is a Boon to the Region

Posted by Contractor Stories on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Contractor to be honored at international CONEXPO-CON/AGG equipment exposition for making a significant difference for the community’s quality of life

By Chris Warren

New Mississippi River Bridge ConstructionCommuters in greater St. Louis know all about slowdowns on the Poplar Street Bridge. The bridge’s 1960s construction specifications were good for traffic flow 50 years ago, but not for the number of cars and trucks on the road today. And it’s the only urban interstate bridge connecting Illinois and Missouri.

Next year will be better for St. Louis drivers, thanks to the soon-to-be-completed new Mississippi River Bridge. The bridge will make a difference to congestion, safety, and commuting times. The new bridge will be about a mile north of the existing Poplar Street Bridge.

The new bridge is slated to open February 2014. Instead of having three interstates – I-70, I-64, and I-55 – crossing the Poplar Street Bridge, the traffic from I-70 will cross at the new bridge. The new bridge will make it far easier to move goods in and around St. Louis and area workers won’t be squandering valuable time in traffic, and commuters will travel more safely.

Company Specializes in Bridges, Locks, Dams

To achieve these benefits, state officials turned to Massman Construction to be the lead contractor in a joint venture with Traylor Brothers and Alberici Constructors. Massman has a significant record of building bridges in tough conditions posed by the swift-moving Mississippi River. “We specialize in marine construction. We build river bridges, locks and dams,” says Mark Schnoebelen, vice president at Massman. “This is what we do for a living.”

In a recently finished part of the job, The Massman, Traylor, Alberici Team connected the Missouri and Illinois approaches to the bridge; the roadway connecting the two towers of the bridge is expected to be done by the end of summer 2013.

By reducing congestion, the Mississippi River Bridge will improve air quality and decrease traffic accidents. For instance, “weaving distance,” the space a driver needs to cross from one lane to the next to reach an exit on the opposite side of the roadway, will be longer and much safer. The 1960s-built Poplar Street Bridge has ramps that are too sharp, sometimes causing trucks to topple over.

Bridge construction projects not only benefit drivers for years to come, but they bring jobs to the area as well. The new Mississippi River Bridge will not only relieve acute downtown congestion in St. Louis, it also provides an economic boost to the region. Schnoebelen says that the joint venture alone is employing 125 local workers for at least the four years it’s taking to get the job done. And then there are the subcontractors, suppliers, and vendors that go along with that, Schnoebelen points out. “We are subcontracting $43 million,” of the work, Schnoebelen said.

A spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) added to this economic assessment.

Greg Horn, the Mississippi River Bridge director for MoDOT, said an economic study demonstrated that every dollar of public money invested yields $23 in wages, profits, and other benefits during the next 45 years. “It’s a boon to the region,” Horn said.

New Mississippi River Bridge Presents Construction Challenges

Horn pointed out the difficulties of the project. It’s always difficult to build in and over the Mississippi River. And on this project, Massman and its partners have had to contend with months of flooding that kept construction barges from working on the water. “Massman came in and worked 10-hour night-and-day shifts six days a week to get back on schedule,” Horn said.

Another Massman led joint venture team also designed and built Mississippi’s Biloxi Bay Bridge, a 1.6-mile span that replaced a bridge destroyed by Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast, halfway between New Orleans and Mobile. The job needed a quick turnaround, requiring the demolition and removal of the old bridge, and construction of the new bridge in just 21 months. Other Massman projects include the replacement of two bridges on one of the busiest portions of I-95 over Altamaha River in Georgia – a job done while traffic continued to flow and with extreme sensitivity to a nearby manatee breeding ground.

The many benefits of the new bridge to the St. Louis region are possible because of the close partnership between Illinois and Missouri and the expertise of Massman and its team of contractors. This unique partnership has translated into a project that is both ahead of schedule and under budget.

With the completion of the new Mississippi River Bridge by St. Louis, a lot of commuters will be able to say that they, too, are right on schedule.

For contributions to our quality of life, Massman Construction will be recognized at North America’s largest construction equipment trade show, CONEXPO-CON/AGG. A company representative and one guest will receive a free trip to the show in Las Vegas in March 2014.

At CONEXPO-CON/AGG, they will see all the innovative new equipment that will continue to support their work for better living brought to you by the men and women of the construction industries.

CONEXPO-CON/AGG is the international gathering place in North America for the construction industries. The event features exhibits of the latest technologies and innovations in equipment, products and services plus extensive industry-targeted education. The next CONEXPO-CON/AGG is March 4-8, 2014 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, USA. More than 100,000 attendees are expected. For more information about CONEXPO-CON/AGG, visit


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