PEORIA — Interstate 74 over the Murray Baker Bridge will be closed to all traffic for seven months in 2020 to replace the bridge's deck.
Officials at the Illinois Department of Transportation detailed plans for that work — and for detouring 20,000 to 30,000 vehicles a day — during a meeting Wednesday morning with elected officials.
They assured them that all lanes of the McClugage Bridge are expected to still be open while the I-74 bridge is shuttered.
A similar, public meeting to describe the process for the $35 million project will follow from 4-7 p.m. next Wednesday at the Gateway Building.
Motorists will begin to see the effects next spring when IDOT begins work on small fixes and other improvements on the detour routes through Peoria and East Peoria for local traffic.
The bridge itself will be completely closed beginning in April 2020 to replace the deck because of its "poor condition," IDOT project engineer Rich Dotson said. That work is expected to finish by November 2020.
The bridge deck was not replaced during the Upgrade 74 project in 2005. According to Journal Star archives, it was last replaced in 1984-85 as part of a $7.2 million project — about $17.7 million in today's dollars.
In addition to the deck replacement, work will also include repairs to the joints in the bridge deck, which are damaged and leaking, and replacement of the lighting to improve nighttime visibility, Dotson said.
During the construction work, through traffic will be rerouted on Interstate 474 around Peoria in both directions.
Local traffic will have several options.
Detours in Peoria:
People traveling eastward through Peoria and heading to East Peoria or elsewhere in Tazewell County will be encouraged to leave the interstate at Exit 92B onto Fayette Street, and will be routed down William Kumpf Boulevard and across the Bob Michel Bridge.
Eastbound traffic into Downtown will still be able to exit at Washington Street, and IDOT will be working to turn an additional lane of Jefferson Avenue into a turn lane at Kumpf to handle traffic heading toward the Bob Michel.
Westbound traffic out of Downtown will still be able to enter I-74 at Washington Street, and signs will also route traffic coming over the Bob Michel Bridge to reach the interstate via Kumpf to Perry Avenue to Spalding Avenue.
Detours in East Peoria:
Traffic will be encouraged to exit onto Washington Street in East Peoria to access most of the community.
To access the Levee District and the shopping areas near Walmart and Bass Pro Shops, traffic will also be able to exit at Main Street and turn onto Camp Street.
However, the intersection of River Road and Camp Street will also be closed at the same time while East Peoria constructs a roundabout there, so IDOT plans to close the left turn lanes from eastbound West Washington Street onto River Road.
"It allows us to coordinate closures to both projects," Dotson said, noting that it would minimize the time motorists are inconvenienced.
Right turns from westbound Washington would still be permitted, with an access road into the nearby shopping center still providing entry.
"We are working very hard to minimize the inconvenience to the public and keep everything safe, but we have a lot going on at the same time," said Karen Dvorsky, IDOT's bureau chief of project development.
First District Peoria City Councilwoman Denise Moore said that despite all the best-laid plans, "I think it's going to be more of a disruption than they would like us to believe."
But, Moore said, people should be patient with the work. One of the most common complaints elected officials receive, she said, is about infrastructure, "and now a big piece of it is being repaired."
She said she'll be working with city Public Works director Scott Reeise to ensure that detour signage throughout Downtown is sufficient for drivers who might find themselves confused.
Meanwhile, there may be some temporary lane closures next year as work begins on the replacement for the eastbound span of the McClugage Bridge, and in future years after work on the Murray Baker is completed, Dvorsky said.
Some of those closures may coincide with other closures for work on the Cedar Street Bridge, where off-ramps on the East Peoria side are scheduled to be rebuilt several years down the road.
The new eastbound span of the McClugage will be built immediately south of the existing span, allowing traffic on the current bridge to remain open longer, she said.
There will be a slight shift in eastbound War Memorial Drive to connect to the new bridge before it opens. The existing bridge is scheduled to be demolished once the new span is complete.
Chris Kaergard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard.