Commuters are about to get their first taste of the months-long closure of the Murray Baker Bridge to come.
Outside lane closures on the bridge carrying Interstate 74 over the Illinois River are scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Jan. 14-15; and 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Jan. 16-18.
The closures are the first step in the inspection process before the bridge shuts down for all traffic on March 29. The Illinois Department of Transportation plans a $45 million project to replace the bridge's aged concrete deck, make repairs to the bridge's steel structure, and replace the roadway and bridge lighting.
The work is tentatively set to be completed by Halloween.
The bridge carried an estimated 67,600 passenger vehicles over the river every day in 2018, and an additional 4,450 heavy trucks. That's far more than the 37,900 vehicles and 900 trucks that passed over the next busiest Peoria-area bridge, the McClugage, over the same timespan.
IDOT's recommended detour route for through traffic is Interstate 474. Local traffic will be diverted over the Bob Michel Bridge which connects East Peoria to downtown Peoria.
IDOT spokesman Paul Wappel said all construction on I-474 should be wrapped up by the time the Murray Baker shuts down.
As for the Bob Michel, that's a little more tricky. The city of East Peoria is planning its own road widening project at the intersection of Camp Street and River Road about the same time. Wappel said IDOT is factoring that construction into its own suggested detour route.
The McClugage Bridge has undergone lane closures in the past year in preparation for another major Peoria bridge project. IDOT plans to demolish and replace the older, narrower eastbound span. That project is tentatively set for completion in 2022.
Wappel said work for the new bridge will continue "off to the side," but no lane closures on U.S. 150 near or on the McClugage will be permitted during the Murray Baker project.
The Cedar Street Bridge and McNaughton Bridge in Pekin will also remain open.