The Congressman William L. Clay Sr. Bridge, formerly known as the Bernard F. Dickmann Bridge and popularly as the Poplar Street Bridge or PSB, completed in 1967, is a 647-foot-long (197 m) deck girder bridge across the Mississippi River between St. Louis, Missouri, and East St. Louis, Illinois. The bridge arrives on the Missouri shore line just south of the Gateway Arch.

Poplar Street Bridge
Coordinates38°37′05″N 90°10′59″W / 38.61806°N 90.18306°W / 38.61806; -90.18306
Carries9 lanes of I-55 / I-64 / US 40
CrossesMississippi River
LocaleSt. Louis, Missouri, and East St. Louis, Illinois
Official nameCongressman William L. Clay Sr. Bridge
Maintained byMissouri Department of Transportation
DesignSteel girder bridge
Total length2,164 ft (660 m)
Width104 ft (32 m)
Longest span600 feet (183 m)
Clearance below92 ft (28 m)
Opened1967; 56 years ago (1967)
Daily traffic106,500 (2014)[1]

Background Edit

Planned just before construction of the Arch, the builders in 1959 were to request that 25 acres (10 ha) of the Gateway Arch property be turned over from the National Park Service for the bridge. The request generated enormous controversy and ultimately 2.5 acres (1.0 ha) of the Jefferson Expansion National Memorial (which included all of the original platted area of St. Louis when it was acquired in the 1930s and 1940s) was given to the bridge.[2]

Usage Edit

Two Interstates and a U.S. Highway cross the entire bridge. Approximately 100,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily, making it the second most heavily used bridge on the river, after the I-94 Dartmouth Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Some of that load has been diverted to the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge since its opening in 2014.

Routes and highways Edit

I-55, I-64 and U.S. Route 40 (US 40) cross the Mississippi on the Poplar Street Bridge. US 66 also ran concurrently over this bridge until 1979, and US 50 was routed over it before the Interstates were constructed. In addition, I-70 crossed the river here until 2014, when it was realigned to cross the river on the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge when it was completed.[3][4] The old alignment of I-70 through downtown to the west approach for the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge became an extension of I-44. However, motorists traveling eastbound on I-44 must continue westbound on I-70 and do not have a direct connection to the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge, while motorists traveling westbound on I-70 do not have a direct connection to I-44 westbound. Any access from eastbound I-44 to eastbound I-70, and from westbound I-70 to westbound I-44, requires using the Poplar Street Bridge.

The traffic was heavily congested until the opening of the new bridge in early February 2014. In 2012, 123,564 vehicles used it every day,[5] but after the new bridge opened, congestion alleviated by almost 14%, less than the predicted 20% decline with 106,500 vehicles using it every day because total traffic across the river from all bridges increased by 7.4% over 2013 levels.[1]

Historical areas Edit

The east end of the bridge crosses the south end of what was Bloody Island which Robert E. Lee connected to the mainland of Illinois with landfill in the 1850s. During its island days several Missouri politicians fought duels there.[6] What was Bloody Island is now a train yard.

Name Edit

Although the bridge's former name honors former St. Louis mayor Bernard F. Dickmann, it is most commonly referred to as the Poplar Street Bridge, with many locals unaware of its official name. The Missouri end of the bridge sits over Poplar Street, and the media started referring to it by that name long before the bridge opened due to the fact that the bridge was built over Poplar Street.[7]

It was officially renamed as the Congressman William L. Clay Sr. Bridge in October 2013 in honor of Bill Clay.[8]

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ a b "IDOT: New bridge carrying less traffic than originally expected". Belleville News Democrat. April 14, 2014. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
  2. ^ Brown, Sharon A. "Jefferson National Expansion Administrative History". National Park Service. Retrieved January 22, 2008.
  3. ^ Allington, Adam (February 26, 2008). "Blunt, Blagojevich sign agreement on bridge". St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  4. ^ Crouch, Elisa (February 28, 2008). "Blunt and Blagojevich sign bridge agreement". KWMU.
  5. ^ 2008 District 6 Traffic Volume and Commercial Vehicle Count Map (PDF) (Map). Missouri Department of Transportation . Archived from the original (PDF) on April 14, 2010. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  6. ^ "Crack of the Pistol: Dueling in 19th Century Missouri". State Archives Education. Missouri Secretary of State.
  7. ^ "$7,992,403 Contract Let for Bridge". Alton Evening Telegraph. October 1, 1964. p. A-3. A $7,992,403 contract for furnishing and erecting the structural steel for the Poplar Street bridge over the Mississippi River, at East St. Louis, has been awarded to Bethlehem Steel Co. of Chicago.
  8. ^ "St. Louis bridge renamed for long-time congressman : Stltoday". Archived from the original on October 13, 2013. Retrieved May 22, 2022.

External links Edit