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Friday, November 16, 2007

McKinley Bridge dedication

Just a reminder: The dedication of the refurbished McKinley Bridge, which connects St. Louis with Venice, Ill., will take place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday on the Illinois side of the bridge.

After the dedication, the bridge won't be open to vehicles until later this month, when the two vehicular lanes will be open to the public. Illinois Department of Transportation construction engineer Ted Nemsky told the Belleville News-Democrat that "very minor" steel repairs remain, bridge and bike rails need to be installed, and some touch-up painting needs to be completed.

Once the bridge is open to cyclists, there will be no direct connections -- for now, anyway -- from the bridge to any existing trails, the Riverfront Trail in Missouri and the Madison County Transit's Confluence and Schoolhouse trails in Illinois, but you can use streets and highways to get to them.

A trail to connect the bridge with the bridge with the Confluence Trail is likely to be finished in 2008. Until then, you can use Illinois Route 3 to get to 20th Street in Granite City, the southern trailhead of the confluence trail. The trail is on the west side of Route 3. Between the bridge and 20th Street, Route 3 has a wide, paved shoulder.

There also will be a direct connection from the bridge to the Riverfront Trail. Until then, you can take the bridge to the North Broadway intersection in St. Louis. Turn right on North Broadway, turn right on East Grand Avenue, turn left on Hall Street, turn right on East Prairie Avenue, and that will take you to the Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing stop on the Riverfront Trail.

Someday, MCT hopes to connect the Schoolhouse Trail to the bridge, but that's many years down the road. I suppose you can go from the bridge to the Route 3/Broadway intersection in Venice, turn right on Route 3/Broadway, stay on Broadway when Route 3 veers to the right, turn right on Second Street in the city of Madison, turn right on Illinois Route 203 (McCambridge Avenue), turn right on Harrison Street and hop on the trail there.

However, I would advise you not take to use option unless you're sure of where you're going and feel comfortable riding in urban areas. A wrong turn could put you in some dicey neighborhoods in the Venice-Madison area.

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