All lanes on I-70 over the Blanchette Bridge in St. Charles are expected to be open to motorists three months earlier than projected.
This (Friday) morning, Missouri Department of Transportation District Engineer Ed Hassinger and City of St. Charles Mayor Sally Faith announced the I-70 Blanchette Missouri River Bridge rehabilitation project is ahead of schedule. The westbound I-70 bridge was closed November 2, 2012, for a maximum one year closure.
“We are pleased to announce today that our reconstruction work is progressing ahead of the one year schedule,” said MoDOT St. Louis District Engineer Ed Hassinger. “The contractor, Walsh Construction, is pushing to open the bridge to traffic before the city’s annual Festival of the Little Hills in mid-August. That goal would be nearly three months ahead of the original schedule.”
This week, Walsh Construction installed the last major piece of structural steel for the bridge. Since March, crews have installed approximately 2,200 pieces of steel for a total weight of 6.5 million pounds of steel in the truss and 1.5 million pounds of steel girders. Crews have begun pouring the concrete bridge deck. Despite extreme low river levels in the winter and flood levels in the spring, the contractor and team of local trades have continued on an aggressive schedule.
“Motorists have done a great job adjusting to the reduced lanes on I-70 at the Blanchette Bridge, and we appreciate their patience and cooperation,” said Hassinger. “We need people to continue using the alternate bridge crossings and avoiding I-70 during rush hours for a few more months.”
“We also want to thank the City of St. Charles for their team approach to this. Their cooperation and assistance with the local businesses has made this a smooth process for everyone,” said Hassinger.
15-thousand people are converging on the campus of Washington University as they begin their 152nd year of celebrating graduates. And the school warns motorists you might want to take another route if you're commute takes you near Forest Park.
Traffic around the university will be very heavy Friday morning due to the university’s annual Commencement ceremony, which begins at 8:30 a.m. Traffic backups should be anticipated on streets near the university, especially Forsyth, Big Bend, Forest Park Parkway and Skinker.
The university will award 2,873 degrees to 2,752 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. The university also will bestow honorary degrees on six individuals.
Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, N.J., will deliver the 2013 Commencement address. During the ceremony, Booker, who is credited with helping revitalize New Jersey’s largest city with his hands-on and innovative approach, also will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.
Washington University’s five other honorary degree recipients and their degrees are:
Marilyn Fox, St. Louis civic leader, philanthropist and community volunteer, doctor of humanities;
Martin L. Mathews, president, CEO and co-founder of Mathews-Dickey Boys’ & Girls’ Club, doctor of humanities;
Juhani Pallasmaa, a Finnish architect, educator and critic and a leading international figure in contemporary architecture, design and artistic culture, doctor of art and architecture;
Peter Rosen (MD ’60), one of the international leaders in the field of emergency medicine and one of the pioneers and founding fathers of the specialty, doctor of science;
and Howard Wood (BSBA ’61), co-founder of two of the nation’s most successful telecommunications companies: Charter Communications Inc. and Cequel III LLC, doctor of laws.
Police say they've caught the man who exposed himself to a teenage girl near a St. Peters library earlier this week.
49-year-old Kevin Flatley was arrested yesterday (Thursday) and charged with 2nd Degree Sexual Misconduct. Police say they tracked him down through a tattoo of an Italian flag similar to one described by the witness.
Flatley's bond has been set at $20,000.
GRANBURY, Texas (AP) — Habitat for Humanity spent years in a North Texas subdivision, helping build many of the 110 homes in the low-income area. But its work was largely undone during an outbreak of 16 tornadoes Wednesday night that killed six people and injured dozens.
On Thursday, authorities combed through debris in Granbury, while residents awaited the chance to see what was left of their homes. Witnesses described the two badly hit neighborhoods as unrecognizable, with homes ripped from foundations and others merely rubble.
Granbury, about 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth, bore the brunt of the damage. The National Weather Service's preliminary estimate was that tornado had wind speeds between 166 and 200 mph. Other tornadoes spawned from the violent spring storm damaged nearby Cleburne and Millsap.
"I tell you, it has just broken my heart," said Habitat for Humanity volunteer Elsie Tallant, who helped serve lunch every weekend to those building the homes in a Granbury neighborhood and those poised to become homeowners.
Hood County Commissioner Steve Berry said Thursday he couldn't tell one street from another in Granbury's Rancho Brazos Estates neighborhood because of the destruction. Half of one home was torn away while the other half was still standing, glasses and vases intact on shelves. Trees and debris were scattered across yards, and fences were flattened. Sheet metal could be seen hanging from utility wires.
The weather service said the preliminary storm estimate for the Granbury tornado was an EF-4, based on the Fujita tornado damage scale. An EF-5 is the most severe.
Of the homes in the Rancho Brazos Estates, 61 of them were built by Habitat for Humanity, according to Gage Yeager, executive director of Trinity Habitat for Humanity in Fort Worth. He said most of those homes were damaged, including at least a dozen that were destroyed.
Raul Rodriguez was among the lucky few: His Habitat for Humanity home was still standing. The 42-year-old mechanic rode the storm out in a closet with his wife and three children. They heard the windows shattering outside but realized their fortune when they emerged to see a heartbreaking scene.
"Injured people, bloody people, started coming to our house, asking us to call 911," said Rodriguez, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than two years. He assessed his own home, finding only shattered windows, lost roof shingles and a collapsed garage.
"My neighbors to the right, they lost everything," he said.
Habitat for Humanity homes, built for low-income buyers using volunteer labor and donations, are financed with affordable loans. The nonprofit selects homeowners based on their level of need, willingness to become partners in the program and ability to repay their loan. Homeowners invest their own time into building the homes as well.
Habitat for Humanity volunteer Bill Jackson said the damaged or destroyed homes were insured and can be rebuilt. But that doesn't alleviate Tallant's pain. She'd gotten to know the people who had waited for years to become homeowners.
"We were going to dedicate a house this weekend, and her home was destroyed," she said.
Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds said Thursday afternoon that two of the dead were women and four of them men; one man and one woman in their 80s.
"Some were found in houses. Some were found around houses," Deeds said. Six or seven people have not been accounted for, he said at a news conference.
"I'm very confident we'll find those people alive and well," Deeds said, adding 37 injured people were treated at hospitals. "We're going to keep looking. We're not going to give up until every piece of debris is turned over."
Harold Brooks, a meteorologist at the weather service's severe storm lab in Norman, Okla., said May 15 is the latest into the month that the U.S. has had to wait for its first significant tornadoes of the year. Brooks said he would expect 2013 to be one of the least lethal tornado years since the agency started keeping records in 1954.
Earlier Thursday, about 20,000 homes and businesses in the region were without power. By the evening, it had dropped to nearly 3,500 homes and businesses.
Another tornado cut a mile-wide path through Cleburne on Wednesday, storm spotters told the National Weather Service. The weather service said it was estimated as an EF-3, which has winds between 136 mph and 165 mph.
Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain said Thursday morning that no one was killed or seriously hurt in the city of about 30,000 some 25 miles southeast of Granbury. Nine people suffered minor injuries, and upward of 150 homes were damaged and another 50 were destroyed.
Cleburne resident Derrek Grisham, 26, said he ran to his mother's home to check on her and his 10-year-old son, who was staying with her.
"I had to kick in the front door to get them out," he said, explaining the two had taken shelter in a bathtub.
On Thursday, he went through his mother's damaged home, salvaging items before the home is likely torn down. The roof had been ripped off and he said her belongings were a jumbled mass, but crosses had stayed in place on the living room wall.