U.S. 61/24 through Palmyra to be closed for 24-hour period Aug. 6

PALMYRA, Mo. — Missouri Department of Transportation officials are planning to close all four lanes of U.S. 61/24 for a full day starting at 1 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 6, so the Mo. 168 overpass just north of Palmyra can be dropped safely to the ground for replacement.

However, the demolition of the overpass won’t be quite as spectacular as originally expected.

“They’re actually going to remove it in pieces,” explained Marisa Ellison, customer relations director at MoDOT’s office in Hannibal.

Original plans called for blowing up the rusty overpass, which would have provided a far more dramatic photo opportunity.

“It was going to be the coolest thing,” Ellison said. “I had all these plans for video and Facebook Live and all that. Then a week ago, the contractor said, ‘Oh, no, we’re going to take it down in pieces.’ So it’s still going to be kind of cool, but not as cool.”

Plans call for shutting all four lanes beginning at 1 a.m. Aug. 6. The date was chosen for the job because Sundays are one of the lightest traffic days of the week. However, weekend traffic should get busier in the afternoon and early evening as travelers return home from trips using the Avenue of the Saints linking St. Louis with St. Paul, Minn.

Ellison said MoDOT officials hope to have at least one lane reopened to traffic in each direction by 1 a.m. Monday, Aug. 7.

While the highway is closed for the overpass demolition, traffic along U.S. 61/24 will be directed through Quincy along Interstate and other routes on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River.

Ellison said MoDOT is trying to get the word out early that U.S. 61/24 traffic will be diverted for a day.

“We’re working with all the commercial motor vehicles, and obviously, law enforcement, and there will be signs up all over the place,” She said. “But we are confident we will still have somebody who won’t realize that it’s closed, and they’ll get all the way up there and our names will be said in vain.”

Ellison said law enforcement officials will be stationed a distance away from the closure site to divert “anybody who doesn’t realize that it’s closed” to other roads.

She said construction workers will place thick metal plates along the highway to prevent damage to the pavement as pieces of the overpass are dropped to the ground.

Ellison said a new Mo. 168 overpass is expected to be completed by Nov. 1.

Lehman Construction, which was awarded the $1.485 million contract, also will be installing a new acceleration lane for northbound traffic in the vicinity of the overpass.

Mo. 168 will be closed at the overpass starting Monday, July 31, so crews can begin preparing for the overpass demolition.

During construction of the new overpass, Mo. 168 will be closed at that intersection for up to three months. Detour signs will be posted.

“The majority of the traffic on this road is local, so they will use their best alternate routes while the road is closed,” said Brian Haeffner, MoDOT’s area engineer. score: whig.com

While Mo. 168 is closed, eastbound Mo. 168 traffic — drivers coming from Palmyra — will be able to access U.S. 61/24 southbound, but not U.S. 61/24 northbound. Westbound Mo. 168 traffic will be able to access U.S. 61/24 northbound, but not U.S. 61/24 southbound, during that period.

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