Construction to begin on Chester Bridge


Missouri Department of Transportation contractor crews will begin construction work on the Don Welge Memorial Bridge over the Mississippi River this week. The design-build project, will construct a new bridge that spans the Mississippi River, connecting the cities of Perryville, Missouri and Chester, Illinois via MO Route 51/IL Route 150.
In March 2023, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission announced the selection of The Ames Team as the design-build contractor to replace the current structure. Since that time, project staff have been working with the contractor and local entities to obtain all necessary permits.
During the past month, crews have also been mobilizing equipment and construction materials at the work site.
As work gets underway, crews will be excavating the Mississippi riverbank on the Missouri side of the river. Work will include the construction of an embankment for the new roadway, fill, utility work, and construction of a temporary access road over the levee.
Work will be ongoing throughout the project and motorists are asked to use extreme caution traveling through the area. Large trucks and equipment will be utilized and will need to access with worksite. No major impacts to traffic are anticipated at this time. Travelers should also expect to see a variety of utility work being conducted on both sides of the river.
Area residents got their questions answered recently about the Chester Bridge during an open house hosted by The Missouri Department of Transportation July 19 at the Catalyst Center.
There were several members of the construction team on hand to answer questions from the public about the project. A similar event was held in June 2022 and much has taken place since that time with the Chester Bridge.
“This meeting is all about the final design,” Project Director Brian Okenfuss said. “The reason we are here is to present that design to the public so they can see what we are building.”
The new bridge will be a three-tower, cable-stayed design and Okenfuss said that the design should be better.
“The design was able to limit the amount of piers in the water,” he said. “By putting three towers they were able to shorten the height of the towers and limit the effects it would have on the airport and FAA.”
The bridge will also be wider with two 12-foot lanes and a pair of 10-foot shoulders.

“Now agricultural traffic will not have to call the police to help them across,” he said. “Those are just a few of the bigger impactful things that people can see.”
There will be little interruption to traffic during the construction process.
“The good thing about this design is that it is built off-alignment,” Okenfuss said. “There probably won’t be much impact to traffic until the last few weeks of the project.”
The Chester Bridge currently has two 11-foot lanes and carries 7,000 vehicles per day with approximately 25 percent being commercial motor vehicle traffic. It connects the cities of Chester, Illinois and Perryville across the Mississippi River via Route 51.
The current truss bridge was originally constructed in 1942 and was re-constructed in 1944 after a severe storm destroyed the main span. The bridge has allowed motorists to travel both east and west across the Mississippi River for 80 years.
This truss bridge has 14 spans for a total length of 2,827 feet. There are two main spans of 670 feet each. The bridge accommodates two lanes of traffic and is 22 feet wide with a vertical clearance of 19 feet 6 inches.
Over the course of eight decades, the Chester Bridge has become less functional for modern vehicles. Although the bridge is safe for travel, this aging structure is considered to be in poor condition. MoDOT is continuing to monitor the bridge. The last inspection occurred in the fall 2021.
The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission approved an amendment to the FY2022-2026 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program to fund the Chester Bridge Replacement Project (J9P3857) during its meeting on Sept. 9, 2021. The estimated cost of the replacement project is $189 million. The Illinois Department of Transportation committed $63 million toward the cost of a bridge replacement in its FY2022-2027 Rebuild Illinois Highway Improvement Program.
The project has a completion date of December 2026.
Additional details about the Chester Bridge are available at
For more information, please contact Project Engineer Zach Lee at (573) 258-3857, MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636) or visit