How do They do That, Anyway?

Here's the site and early work on the new Mississippi River Bridge.

Have you ever wondered what goes into building a major river bridge? Tours are now being offered for the New Mississippi River Bridge in St. Louis, where you can see, up close, how these impressive structures take shape.

The Mississippi River Bridge project will create a new gateway between Illinois and Missouri that provides better connections to and through St. Louis. The project includes a landmark bridge structure, and the realignment and reconstruction of Interstate 70 and numerous local roads on both sides of the state line.

Up to 25 people can participate in two tours each month. They are 1.5 hours long and take place on the final Friday of each month at 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. The first tour began Oct. 29, 2010.

“This is a good opportunity for people to see the ongoing activities on the river as part of building the main span for the new bridge,” says Greg Horn, P.E., project director for the New Mississippi River Bridge. Horn says tours do have to be limited to minimize the impact to the contractor team and to ongoing construction.

Tour attendees need to dress appropriately, including long pants and closed-toed shoes; they will walk about a mile as part of the tour. Attendees must be at least 12 years old, and will have to sign a waiver (a parent or guardian must sign the waiver for attendees younger than age 18). The MRB team will provide other safety gear needed to participate in the tour.

Reservations are required. For full details or to schedule your tour, call 314-453-1808 or visit www.NewRiverBridge.org. On the website, learn more details about the project and check out real-time traffic cameras of traffic in or near the project area.

Please note: A reservation is no guarantee of the tour taking place. If a cancellation is necessary due to construction or river levels, the decision will be made as early as possible. If you leave a phone number or e-mail address when making a reservation, you will be notified of a cancelled tour.

A few facts about the New Mississippi River Bridge

  • The cable-stayed portion of the bridge will be slightly more than four football fields in length.
  • The Mississippi River Bridge will require 14.8 million pounds of girders – equivalent to the weight of 925 elephants
  • The cable-stayed portion of the bridge will require eight million pounds of reinforcing steel – equivalent to the weight of 363 school buses.
  • The New Mississippi River Bridge will be 400 feet tall, just two-thirds the height of the Arch.
  • Concrete does not dry. It cures. Curing is the hardening process that occurs because of the chemical reaction between cement and water.
  • The total project will cost $640 million – equivalent to one dollar bills laid end to end circling the equator two and a half times.

Written by Laura Holloway, community relations coordinator for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

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