Environmental study being conducted on the Chester, IL Bridge

CHESTER, IL (KFVS) - The Missouri Department of Transportation's Southeast District, and The Illinois Department of Transportation, along with the Federal Highway Administration, is conducting an environmental study of the Chester Bridge (Route 51) over the Mississippi River.

They held an open house to get feedback on the Reasonable Alternatives for the rehabilitation or replacement of the Chester Bridge.

They have narrowed it down to from seven reasonable alternatives to three:

  • The first being a new bridge built 75-feet upstream of where Chester Bridge is currently.
  • The second being a new bridge built 500-600-feet upstream.
  • The third option is a couplet which would involve rehabilitating the current bridge and building a new one for each opposite lane of traffic.

KFVS spoke to a few resident to see what they thing about the options laid out.

"Two different bridges operating in different directions is very strange to me," resident Sarah Welborn said. "I've never seen that. It would definitely take some getting used to."

"They need to put a bridge 300-500 feet down the road or whatever they need," resident Jackie Stueve said. "Just a complete new bridge."

"It needs to be completely redone and the old on tore down," resident Kathy Stueve said.

The groups will be working on a detailed environmental study once they get a response from the public on the three alternatives.

Then they will present their findings to the public and will have another open house within the next year.

Buddy Desai, the Consulting Project Manager for the Chester Bridge Study, spoke about why they are looking for the public feedback on the project and why they should get involved with the study.

"The public plays a very important role on these environmental studies, the federal highway administration, and MoDOT and IDOT, don't want to do projects in a vacuum, and we understand that projects serve the people and their opinion is very, very important in these types of studies," Desai said.

The goal of the Chester Bridge Study is to develop a safe and reliable Route 51 river crossing.

Located southwest of Chester, Ill., and northeast of Perryville, Mo., the Chester Bridge is the only connection for drivers across the Mississippi River between St. Louis, Mo. to the north, and Cape Girardeau, Mo. to the south.

The current truss bridge was originally built in 1942 and was reconstructed in 1944 after a severe storm destroyed the main span.

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