MoDOT plans to close Hwy 370 Discovery Bridge to bicycle traffic for three years

[UPDATE April 2014: The work on the I-70/Blanchette Bridge is now complete.  We have heard from the MoDOT St. Louis District that they are planning to re-stripe the Hwy 370 bridge and replace the bike lanes later this spring.  Work is planned to start in May 2014 and be finished by June 2014, if all goes well.]

MoDOT recently sent a letter to Terry Eastin, Executive Director of the Mississippi River Trail, informing her that the Discovery Bridge near St Charles, Missouri, will be closed for bicycle use for about three years, from Summer 2011 to some time in 2014. (See street view of the Discovery Bridge to the right, or view a larger map.)

The bridge, which serves Hwy 370 and is the only Missouri River crossing for bicyclists east of the Hwy 364/Page Avenue Extension Bridge, not only acts as a key link for the Mississippi River Trail, but is also used by the American Discovery Trail. 

Improving the Discovery Bridge was ranked as the #2 priority project by St. Louis-area Priority Projects Team last spring.

Closing the bridge to bicycle traffic will create problems for those bicycling through the area.  On the north side of the river, a detour along the Katy Trail to the Hwy 364/Page Ave Extension is possible, but on the south side of the river the detour along Earth City and Maryland Heights Expressway is more difficult.

The detour to Hwy 364/Page Ave Extension, southwest of Hwy 370, adds about ten miles to the trip while a detour to the next bridge eastward on the Missouri River, Hwy 67/Lewis & Clark Boulevard, would add more than 20 miles.  So the detours are going to make many local bicycle trips in the St. Charles/Earth City area impractical.

Area advocacy groups are working with MoDOT in hopes the agency will identify alternate routes and detours and provide signs or maps so that bicyclists can navigate the alternate routes.