Illinois, Missouri Join Forces to Build New Highway Bridge

The Illinois Department of Transportation and Missouri Department of Transportation, along with Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D), hosted a media event celebrating the start of construction on the new I-270 Chain of Rocks Bridge over the Mississippi River, part of a combined $531.6 million investment to improve one of the nation’s critical freight corridors.

[Above photo by the Illinois DOT]

The bridge serves as a vital transportation asset between the Metro East region of Illinois and the greater St. Louis area, with the I-270 highway loop connecting many of the region’s warehouses and distribution parks, ports, airports, and rail yards on both sides of the Mississippi River. Nearly 70 percent of the region’s industrial tenants occupying large warehouse space in excess of 500,000 square feet are within 10 minutes of the interstate, according to the Illinois DOT.

“This isn’t just an investment for the Metro East region — it’s an investment for our entire nation,” explained Gov. Pritzker in a statement. “This major freight corridor connects our ports and railways — essential to maintaining a steady supply chain for Illinoisans, Missourians, and all Americans alike.”

Built in 1966, the existing bridge over the river is two lanes in each direction with narrow one-foot-wide shoulders posing safety concerns for vehicle breakdowns and first responders, the Illinois DOT noted. The bridge accommodates 51,000 vehicles a day, about 20 percent of which are freight-carrying trucks, and the structure requires frequent maintenance and repairs due to its age.

Illinois DOT’s Omer Osman at left with MoDOT’s Patrick McKenna at right. Photo by Illinois DOT.

A $496.2 million joint Illinois DOT and MoDOT project will replace the bridge with two structures that have wider shoulders that can accommodate the eventual expansion of I-270 to three lanes in each direction. A companion $35.4 million MoDOT project will reconstruct the Riverview Drive interchange just west of the bridge.

“The I-270 Chain of Rocks Bridge represents the great partnership between Missouri and Illinois investing in this vital freight corridor connecting I-270 to I-70,” said Missouri Governor Mike Parson (R), who could not attend the event in person. “Along with the bridge, Missouri is transforming I-270 as well as making historic improvements to I-70 across the entire state.”

Construction on the new I-270 bridge began in late 2022 and should wrap up in 2026, noted Illinois DOT Secretary Omer Osman. “The I-270 project is extra special because of the partnership with Missouri to work together to improve safety, commerce and quality of life for an entire region,” he added.

Both Missouri and Illinois continue to coordinate on long-term plans to improve capacity and increase reliability of I-270 by adding a third lane in each direction.

The Illinois DOT noted that, within its current multiyear improvement program, $75 million in funding is coming from the six-year, $45 billion “Rebuild Illinois” capital plan passed in June 2019 by the Illinois legislature and signed into law by Gov. Pritzker for an additional lane between the river and just east of St. Thomas Road, a project that includes the reconstruction of the Illinois 3 interchange.

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