The New I-64 has been two years in the making. In 2008 the first five-mile stretch of highway was closed. This wasn’t too bad since the stretch of highway that goes by the house was still open.
It did make it inconvenient to go to West County and Saint Charles. Clayton Road was re-striped. This made what was once one of the best cycling roads in town into an auto only thorough fare. MODOT explained that we all had to make sacrifices in order to get through this trial. Yeah right!
The first half of making the New I-64 lasted almost a year. It finished a few weeks early and on the Sunday before this stretch of road was reopened to traffic, it was opened to pedestrian and bicycling traffic. It was a great party. I blogged about this event here and here.
After the party was over though, MODOT closed the second section of the New I-64. East-West traffic that was normally handled by the highway spilled into our neighborhood. Work on the Hanley overpass began then also. This forced a lot more traffic into our neighborhood. There were long wait times at traffic lights just to get out of the neighborhood.
Then at the end of last spring’s school year they closed the Big Bend overpass. This led to a summer of insanity. Both north-south arteries on either side of our neighborhood were closed. This caused the north-south traffic that was normally handled by these roads to spill over into our neighborhood. I’m surprised that none of my neighbors ever went postal last summer. Heck, I’m surprised I never went postal. Anne was fortunate to miss a lot of this phase of the New I-64.
Angry neighbors brought swift retribution by the local police. It was not uncommon to see two to three patrol cars writing tickets with in a block or two of the house. The lines of traffic got so long that many streets were made one-way streets. Surprisingly this actually helped. Eventually the Hanley overpass reopened. This helped a lot. Just last month, the Big Bend overpass reopened too.
On Wednesday the last overpass still closed reopened, the Clayton Avenue overpass. With a touch of style, they got the same woman to cut the ribbon at the re-opening that had cut the ribbon seventy years ago when the overpass was originally built. The first time she was five years old.
The electric sign on the highway announced Thursday night that the New I-64 will reopen in four days. That would be this Monday. This Sunday the new stretch of road will be open to pedestrians and bicycles, just like before. You can bet that Anne and I will be there again. But before this highway project is finished there is one more squeeze. In order to prepare for the opening MODOT is closing connecting highway lanes this week. Oh well, just one more commute.