When I first heard about work on “the DeBaliviere Bridge”many months ago, I wondered -what bridge? hadn’t connected that fact that the road goes over the MetroLink lines with there being a bridge there!
Over the course of this year I’ve been made very aware of the bridge, with the road closed, the existing structure removed and a new one lifted into place.
September saw another milestone in the Loop Trolley project, as the bridge was reopened, allowing traffic to once again flow south from DeBaliviere towards the History Museum. The opening was not accompanied by a big ceremony, but a few of us turned up to watch the event, and the observers were probably outnumbered by workers ready to move signs and make final preparations.
Talking to these guys it was obvious that they are as invested in this project as the rest of us, and they take justifiable pride in the work done. Among the small number of residents was Joe Edwards, who had been given the honor of being the first person to cross the new structure. At the appointed time, Joe drove his ’57 Buick across the bridge, only to have to wait for the lights to change before continuing across Forest Park Parkway, around the History Museum and back. Before he had completed the loop, the bridge was back in full action, with traffic using the new route as if there had never been an interruption of movement. (As a note for history, the first vehicle to cross north over the bridge was a truck from the St Louis City Water Division.)
For the last several months, the east side of DeBaliviere has been a hive of activities. A vast amount of ground has been dug up and new drainage installed.
This has entailed St Louis Water trucks being in attendance almost every day, and other drivers constantly have to be aware of lane changes. Forms have been set, gravel dumped and leveled, and concrete poured. Right now it is hard to envision this as anything other than a building site, but the hiking/biking path and trolly route are slowly emerging from the chaos. As I write, work on the road continues to go on apace, and from the other side of the street I can see that the Trolley tracks have been laid on the DeBaliviere Bridge.
It is interesting looking back at my photographs over the time of the work here. I took some pictures just before the bridge was removed, and the trees were in their spring
blossom. Now it’s Fall and the
same trees are starting to lose their leaves. By next spring, assuming things continue to go as planned, the blossom will fall on a completed bridge and the tracks of a new Trolley route for St Louis.
The Times of Skinker DeBaliviere © November 2015