ARRA Project BridgeMetro today announced it will restore the historic EADS Bridge in what is the first extensive rehabilitation of the support structure of the bridge in its 138-year history. The work is needed to protect this national landmark and upgrade an important piece of the region’s $1.8 billion transit infrastructure so it can continue to serve future generations.

The total contract amount for the project is $36 million and is largely funded through $34 million in federal support, of that $25 million is from ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funds. The City of St. Louis, which co-owns the bridge with Metro, contributed a $4.8 million federal grant toward completion of the project. Of the $36 million total, $2.4 million is from local funds.

The Eads Bridge, designed by James Buchanan Eads, was completed in 1874 and was the first steel structure bridge project in the United States. Now, after more than a century of use, it is in need of major repairs and a significant facelift. This structural rehabilitation project will replace support steel that dates to the 1880’s. As many as nine layers of paint and rust will be blasted off the bridge down to the bare metal, and then the bridge will be primed with a rust inhibitor, before the top coating is applied. Combined with regular maintenance painting, the anti-corrosion coating system should extend the life of the bridge another 50 years. After enduring trains crossing the bridge nearly 300 times daily and exposure to the elements for almost two decades, the MetroLink alignment that crosses the bridge will be upgraded with new rail and ties as part of this comprehensive project. Metro is committed to completing all of work by the fall of 2015.

The general contractor for the project is St. Louis Bridge Construction Company, a local firm with extensive experience in working on bridges, highway and railroad structures, dams, levees and spillways. St. Louis Bridge is currently working on three other projects on the Mississippi River and is quite familiar with the EADS Bridge, having completed a rebuild of the deck of the bridge in 2003.