State may open bridge on May 3 St. John's Lane, U.S. 29 clear soon

April 16, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

State Highway Administration engineers expect to open the bridge over U.S. 29 at St. John's Lane and Route 103 on May 3, allowing easier movement through the intersection and shorter waits at the light on U.S. 29.

About a month later, they hope to reach the milestone that U.S. 29 motorists long for every time they pull up behind cars backed up to Route 108 -- the removal of the last traffic light on 29 between Interstate 70 and Columbia south of Route 32.

Haverhill Contracting Co. had originally estimated that the bridge might open in December, far ahead of schedule. But rainy fall weather moved back the expected opening.

In the interim, Haverhill engineers suggested improving the traffic pattern that will result from the bridge opening, said Douglas Rose, SHA district engineer.

fTC Originally, it was thought that only one ramp, from U.S. 29 south onto St. John's Lane going west, would be opened along with the bridge. That would have forced motorists coming from the west on St. John's Lane to cross the bridge, turn right on Old Columbia Pike, and double back through the traffic light to get onto U.S. 29.

But the contractor will create instead a temporary connection to the partially completed ramp from St. John's Lane to U.S. 29 south to make the detour unnecessary.

Mr. Rose said the change should help prevent traffic bottlenecks at the traffic signal at Old Columbia Pike and Route 103.

Motorists coming east on Route 103 will still have to take a detour via Old Columbia Pike and wait for the light on U.S. 29 to get onto U.S. 29, he explained.

Although the project is not moving as fast as the contractor had originally expected, it is not behind schedule, he said. Highway officials are keeping their fingers crossed for good weather for the next two weeks that will let them keep that on-time schedule.

Once completed, the $28 million interchange project will also connect the eastern terminus of Route 100 with U.S. 29 and Long Gate Parkway.

"We're still looking at the spring of '94, and they're well ahead of that," Mr. Rose said.

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