It is hard to believe that St. Louis residents have lived through almost a year with one of our busiest highways closed for construction in a highly traveled 5 mile stretch.

road-closed-sign.jpgLast year, all lanes of Highway 40 were shut down during the the night on Jan 1 so that everything would be ready for morning rush hour on Jan. 2. The work was done in the wee hours of the night, on a holiday, so there was little traffic for the construction crew to contend with while they were working.

This time things aren’t going to go as smoothly.

Re-striping the highway lanes was originally scheduled for late in the day this Sunday. The re-striping would change the traffic pattern so that everyone heading west would be forced off the highway at Kingshighway and those traveling south on Hwy 170 would be diverted to Westbound Hwy 40 instead of Eastbound Hwy 40.

But, the weatherman is predicting freezing rain on Sunday, and the re-striping work requires dry pavement.

red-light.jpgSo, instead of doing the work at 2 AM when the rest of the city is sleeping, the highway is now scheduled to be re-striped at 7 AM on Saturday morning.

Granted, there aren’t tons of people out at 7 AM on a Saturday morning, but I have a feeling that drivers that are heading out in mid-morning will find a confusing mess of snarled traffic.

The original plan called for the eastbound section of highway to close at the same time as the westbound section of new highway was opened up. Instead, drivers all weekend will find the entire construction zone…from Hwy 270 to Kingshighway, completely shut-down.

I live smack in the middle of the project, and can’t wait for the western section to open since I have been dealing with 5 miles of secondary roads every time I head out to my Chesterfield office. But, you can bet I won’t be going anywhere near Hwy 40 this weekend (except for Sunday’s events which I plan to attend if the freezing rain doesn’t show up).

Tomorrow I’m attending Bar Camp St. Louis at the City Museum. (It’s basically a casual conference style gathering of people interested in learning more about websites and technology. I’ve got a lot to learn, so it is perfect for me. If you think it looks interesting, feel free to sign up or stop by.)

You can bet that I’ll be taking alternative routes to get downtown tomorrow morning.

Take a walk down the new highway on Sunday from 12-3 pm:

I’m hoping that the weather forecast is wrong, because I really want to take advantage of this once in a lifetime chance to walk down the middle of a brand new highway.

Regardless of the weather, the opening ceromonies will go on. You can access the new highway from the eastbound lanes at every exit between Ballas Road and Brentwood.

If you do plan to attend, take a look at the information below put out by the Missouri Department of Transportation:

If you plan on attending the celebration, dress for the weather and keep in mind the following tips:

1. The Fun starts at noon on Sunday, December 14 and continues to 3 p.m.

2. You can get on the Eastbound lanes of the highway, at any entrance ramp or exit ramp between Ballas Road and Brentwood Boulevard.

3. You can walk, ride a bike or rollerblade on the highway, but no motorized vehicles will be allowed. If you ride a bike and you are in a crowded area, you will need to walk your bike through the crowd.

4. If you are bringing your bikes to the highway, you should not stop in a traffic lane to unload your bikes. Be sure to stop in a safe location to unload your bikes.

5. There will be no food or beverages available on the highway; but there will be portable restrooms at Lindbergh, McKnight and near McCutcheon.

6. You cannot bring coolers, alcohol or any kind of glass containers onto the highway.

7. We don’t recommend bringing pets to the ceremony, but if you do bring a pet onto the highway be sure to bring supplies for cleaning up after your pet. This will be a pedestrian space for these 3 hours.

8. Please do not park on private property. Many of the nearby roads are narrow and do not allow parking on the side of the road. If your vehicle is illegally parked it could be ticketed or towed by law enforcement.

9. Public parking is available at the Metro Meridian Garage at Hanley and Eager Roads, with Metrobus shuttles bringing guests to and from the ceremony location. The shuttles will begin running at 11:30 a.m. and will return guests to the garage immediately after the ceremony.

10. Parking is also available at the Frontenac Hilton and Le Chateau Village, located near Clayton Road at Lindbergh Boulevard. (No shuttles to or from this location, but carriage rides on the highway will be available.)