Martin Luther King Bridge (St. Louis)

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Martin Luther King Bridge
Martin Luther King Bridge from Lacledes Landing, Sep 2012.jpg
MLK bridge from Laclede's Landing
Coordinates38°37′52″N 90°10′46″W / 38.63111°N 90.17944°W / 38.63111; -90.17944
Carries3 lanes (1 westbound and 2 eastbound) of Route 799
CrossesMississippi River
LocaleSt. Louis, Missouri, and East St. Louis, Illinois
Other name(s)Veterans Bridge
Maintained byIllinois Department of Transportation
DesignCantilever bridge
Total length4,009 ft (1,222 m)
Width40 ft (12 m)
Longest span962 ft (293 m)
Clearance above19.4 ft (6 m)
Clearance below98 ft (30 m)
Opened1951; 69 years ago (1951)
ClosedOctober 2018—August 19, 2020[1]
Daily traffic12,700 (2014)[2]

The Martin Luther King Bridge (formerly known as the Veterans Bridge) in St. Louis, Missouri, is a cantilever truss bridge of about 4,000 feet (1,200 m) in total length across the Mississippi River, connecting St. Louis with East St. Louis, Illinois. Opened in 1951, the bridge serves as traffic relief connecting the concurrent freeways of Interstate 55, Interstate 64, and U.S. Route 40 with the downtown streets of St. Louis. It was renamed for King in 1968 after the national civil rights leader was assassinated that year.


The bridge was built across the Mississippi River in 1951 as the Veterans' Memorial Bridge to relieve congestion on the MacArthur Bridge to the south. Built as a toll bridge, it was owned by the City of East St. Louis. At one time, it carried U.S. Route 40 and U.S. Route 66 across the river. In 1967, the bridge fell into disrepair after the (free) Poplar Street Bridge was completed; traffic moved to the new bridge, resulting in declining toll revenues needed for maintenance.

Eventually, ownership was transferred dually to the Missouri and Illinois departments of Transportation and the bridge was renamed after Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 after the national civil rights leader was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.[3] In 1987, the states removed the toll for travel across the bridge. A bi-state project for about $24 million to renovate the bridge, at the behest of local civic and government leaders, was carried out in the late 1980s. In the spring of 1989, the rebuilt bridge was reopened. In June 1990, the lighting of the bridge was completed by the St. Louis Port Authority. In the 21st century, it is considered an important contributor to satisfying the transportation needs of the region and enhancing the ambiance of the historic St. Louis riverfront.

On October 12, 2009, the bridge was closed in order to reduce the old four-lane configuration down to three wider lanes, install a waterproofing membrane over the bridge surface Martin Luther King Bridge To Reopen Early After Repairs - KTVI, and to install a concrete barrier to separate eastbound traffic from westbound. Over the previous six years, there had been 38 serious accidents, including several involving fatalities.[4] The $1.4 million project was aimed at eliminating these head-on collisions in the future. The bridge re-opened on October 21, 2009.

After the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge opened in February 2014 across the river, daily traffic volume on the King bridge had decreased by 40% by April 2014 to 12,700 daily.[2] This was one of the goals of construction of the new bridge: to distribute traffic more widely among the bridges and associated roadways, improving traffic patterns.

In October 2018, the bridge was closed to all traffic to allow an extensive rehabilitation project to take place. Among other things, this project would replace the deck surface and put a fresh coat of pavement on the roadway, as well as replacing the extensively deteriorated eastern approach spans, and repainting the entire bridge. The bridge was originally expected to reopen to traffic in January 2019. However, due to flooding, the date of reopening was pushed to summer of 2020.[5] The bridge eventually reopened on August 19, 2020.[1]


Route 799[edit]

Route 799
LocationIllinois state line to I-44 in St. Louis
Length0.50 mi (0.80 km)

The Missouri half of the bridge is designated as unsigned Route 799 by the Missouri Department of Transportation.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "MLK Bridge opens after months of delays". Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "IDOT: New bridge carrying less traffic than originally expected". Belleville News Democrat. April 14, 2014. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
  3. ^ "Martin Luther King Bridge, Saint Louis, MO".
  4. ^ King Bridge closure on schedule | Along for the Ride | STLtoday
  5. ^ Bell, Kim. "Reopening of Martin Luther King Bridge in downtown St. Louis pushed back a year".
  6. ^ General Highway Map: St. Louis City (PDF) (Map). Missouri Department of Transportation. September 2005. Retrieved July 19, 2020.

External links[edit]