The end of in-town detours is in sight for motorists in Independence.
Weather permitting, by Dec. 1, the new bridges spanning Interstate 70 at Pittman Road, Crysler Avenue and Phelps Road will be open. At the very least, they'll be done by Christmas, the Missouri Department of Transportation says.
Age and deterioration caused the bridges to need extensive repairs or all new structures. All three spans have been closed since shortly before early June, when MoDOT closed I-70 between Interstates 470 and 435 for a weekend to demolish the bridges and clean up the rubble, causing many motorists to alter daily routes.
James Pflum, the MoDOT engineer overseeing the bridges project, said work has moved along as scheduled, though August and September were wetter than average and caused some delays.
“We had a few issues initially, but any time you're digging in the grass that can happen,” Pflum said. “Right now, we're projected for Dec. 1.”
“October and November you just get to the point where it rains once a while, here and there, and you're working as much you can. When it comes to bridge building, it's been fairly normal.”
Clarkson Construction has built all the main components of the new bridges, Pflum said. At Crysler and Phelps, the bridge barriers and fencing still need to go up, and crews need to lay asphalt at the entrances.
“Pittman, we are pouring the last pieces of barrier today, and the decorative fence is going up.” Pflum said Friday. “We're nearing opening that one up in the next week or so.
“We kind of recognize that these are important to the community, so we weren't going to wait until they were all done.”
MoDOT estimated that before the bridges were demolished Pittman Road had about 3,300 vehicles crossing daily, Crysler had 3,500 and Phelps had 2,600. In addition to those closures, motorists have dealt with lane shifting and intermittent closures to allow for bridge construction, and the entrance ramp from Blue Ridge Boulevard to eastbound I-70 has been closed to avoid too much congestion at one of those lane shifts.
Even when the bridges reopen, Pflum cautioned, people might still see workers at the sites doing final touch-ups.
“The nice things about the area, there's quite a few options for people to take,” Pflum said. “The traveling public has been pretty smart in getting around and finding alternative routes.”