Mississippi River bridge connecting southeast Missouri, southern Illinois to close for a year

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CAIRO, Illinois — A Mississippi River bridge connecting the southern parts of Missouri and Illinois will close for a year while crews make major repairs, transportation officials said Tuesday.

Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Brian Williamsen said the bridge will shut down March 16 and is expected to reopen March 18, 2016.

The bridge carries U.S. 60 and U.S. 62 traffic, spanning the Mississippi River from the Cairo area of southern Illinois to near Charleston in southeast Missouri. Another bridge is just 6 miles to the north so disruption is expected to be relatively minimal.

The two-lane bridge opened in 1929. It is the last crossing over the Mississippi before the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, also near Cairo. The bridge is near where Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky come together, so messages boards in all three states are alerting motorists about the shutdown and urging them to seek alternative routes.

Illinois transportation officials said an annual inspection in April uncovered the need for repair of steel beams and joints. St. Louis Bridge Co. will perform the work. The contract cost is $2.8 million.

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