The Illinois Department of Transportation has closed the Interstate 74 bridge in Peoria until the end of October.
The move makes way for a $42 million deck replacement on the structure, known locally as the Murray Baker, that spans the Illinois River between Peoria and East Peoria.
Nick Volk, a field engineer with IDOT, said the work is necessary.
“It’s met its useful service life,” said Volk. “We see a lot of problems with the joints right now making it a rough ride. But, the ride isn’t as important as any water getting through causes deterioration to steel. So, we want to get ahead of that — replacing the deck, replacing those joints right now before the steel gets so bad before we have to replace everything.”
Volk said the Murray Baker meets current guidelines for federal bridges. He added complete replacement would cost much more.
“The bridge is in good enough condition that we can just put a new deck on it," he said. "Considerably less expensive and considerably faster.”
Volt said all through traffic is urged to use Interstate 474. Local traffic will detour via the Bob Michael Bridge.
Volt said IDOT is working with the traffic app Waze to provide drivers with timely updates. Motorists can also visit gettingaroundpeoria.com for more information on the I-74 bridge closure. The website features a dedicated Murray Baker bridge project section with detour maps, traffic cameras and related updates.
There is precedence for closing the Murray Baker for an extended time. In 2005, the span was closed as part of a larger I-74 reconstruction project.
“We have done it before,” said Volk. “It worked pretty well. We have a number of river crossings between I-474 coming down to the Cedar Street, the Bob Michael, McCluggage Bridge. So, there are a lot of alternative routes that really give Peoria an advantage that a lot of cities don’t have to be able to close a road like this.”
The Murray Baker construction coincides with work on a new eastbound span for the Route 150 bridge, also known as the McCluggage, a few miles north of the Murray Baker. Volt said that work will not affect commuting motorists.
“The new bridge will be being built but we actually have it in the contract for the new McCluggage that there are no lane closures allowed on eastbound 150 once the Murray Baker closes,” said Volk. “We do still have to inspect the eastbound [McCluggage] bridge, that’s a federally mandated guideline, so there will be a span of approximately a week sometime this summer over the summer where they will see lane closures during what we call non-peak hours.”
The Murray Baker deck replacement is expected to run through October 31.
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