Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge Opens

Stan Musial Veterans Memorial BridgeThe new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge made its public debut on Saturday, with various celebratory events and a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and opened to traffic on Sunday.

The 1,500-ft cable-stayed bridge connects Illinois with Missouri over the Mississippi River near downtown St. Louis and is the third longest bridge of its kind in the U.S. The photo at left shows the towers on the Missouri and Illinois sides of the new bridge lit up at night.

The $230-million bridge was built to alleviate traffic on the nearby Poplar Street Bridge, which carries Interstates 55, 64 and 70 as well as U.S. 40, and runs between downtown St. Louis and East St. Louis, Ill. I-70 traffic has been rerouted to the new bridge, which accommodates two lanes in each direction, with the ability to expand to three lanes. Construction on the project started in February 2010.

HNTB Corporation, the bridge’s structural engineer, created a design that employed steel anchor boxes inside of the pylons for the stay cable anchorages instead of using formed concrete corbels. The use of steel anchor boxes eliminated the need for complex forming of concrete inside the bridge’s delta-shaped pylon legs. Ultimately, the use of steel saved time, reduced cost, increased accuracy in the tight tolerances of the cable geometry and reduced the amount of post-tensioning needed around the perimeter of the pylon legs.

The project uses 8,000 tons of structural steel in all, which was fabricated by W&W/AFCO Steel (an AISC/NSBA member and AISC Certified fabricator). Tensor Engineering (an AISC/NSBA member) was the project’s steel detailer.   

“The Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge is a significant and iconic addition to this nation’s infrastructure and to the skyline of St. Louis, and W&W/AFCO Steel takes great pride in witnessing its grand opening,” said Deane Wallace, senior vice president at AFCO Steel. “We appreciate the cooperation of the HNTB design team in helping translate their vision to workable solutions; Massman, Traylor, Alberici, a Joint Venture, planned and labored five years to build this massive structure, and we congratulate them on the success of their great efforts; AFCO Steel spent two years fabricating 8,000 tons of steel to form the strong and elegant backbone of the bridge; MoDOT and ILDOT bring this iconic bridge to the public and we expect them to take great pride in their new Steel Centurion for the next 100 years. The ‘Stan Span’ is truly a ‘Grand Slam!’”

The new bridge got its name from a compromise between politicians on both sides of the Mississippi River, who had different ideas for the name of the bridge. The Missouri side wanted to name the bridge after the St. Louis Cardinals’ legendary outfielder and first baseman Stan Musial, who died last year, and the Illinois side wished to honor military veterans. In the end both sides won, and this past summer the bridge was officially named the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge (SMVMB).  

You can read more about the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge project from the November 2013 issue of MSC