A highway maintenance and construction project is underway that is expected to have a major impact on Interstate 70 traffic this summer. Work to repair the eastbound and westbound I-70 bridges over the Lamine River west of Boonville began Tuesday. Patty Lemongelli with the Missouri Department of Transportation says overnight closures are occurring at the bridge.

I70 corridor in Missouri, photo courtesy of MODOT

I70 corridor in Missouri, photo courtesy of MODOT

“Probably not real big in terms of scale and scope of work but as far as impact, pretty big,” said Lemongelli. “This is what I would call just some major maintenance in order to preserve these bridges to last another 25 years or so.”

Motorists will encounter nightly lane closures on and near the bridge from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. until early July. One lane of I-70 in each direction will be open at all times. Contractors will be working under the bridge and will be building crossovers for use later this summer, when the work will require full bridge closures.

The full closures will eventually reduce I-70 traffic to one lane in each direction continuously. Work requiring full bridge closures and head-to-head traffic on I-70 will not start until after the Fourth of July and will be completed before Labor Day. The entire project is scheduled for completion in November.

The Department encourages motorists to follow the “zipper merge” concept. When traffic is slowed or stopped, the zipper merge involves motorists using both lanes of traffic until they reach the point where the lane is closed, then take turns with other drivers to safely and smoothly ease into the remaining lane. Department officials say the overall length of the traffic backup is reduced by 40-50-percent when drivers choose this form of merging.

Brad Tregnago of KSSZ contributed to this story.