Bridge closing lengthens residentsâ?? commutes

The Hominy Branch bridge sits closed for repairs Tuesday afternoon. Residents said the closing easily adds 20-30 minutes to their commutes.

Tuesday marked the first full day drivers could not cross the Route WW Hominy Branch bridge, which is closed for construction.

MoDOT closed the bridge on Monday evening to allow workers to replace the bridge deck. Officials told KRCG 13 closing the bridge entirely will help workers finish the job faster. The agency said leaving one lane open would worsen the congestion on the bridge over Highway 63, which is down to one lane in each direction.

The closing leaves thousands of people who live east of Columbia without a direct route into town. Cindy Bivens said her errands usually involve a 5- to 10-minute drive. That drive now takes closer to 20 minutes. Linda Eberwein said her commutes have tripled in length. Both women live in the El Chaparral neighborhood less than a mile east of the bridge. MoDOT said the bridge carries more than 60,000 cars a day on average.

El Chaparral residents said they found Rolling Hills Road and Grace Lane were the best detours. Both roads hook into Highway WW about two miles east of the Hominy Branch. Rolling Hills Road runs south to New Haven Road, which turns into the Grindstone Parkway, while Grace Lane runs north to Richland Road, which runs west to St. Charles Road.

Most residents said the road construction is inconvenient but a better bridge will be worth the wait. MoDOT said the bridge should reopen in late August, although Eberwein said she was skeptical of the claim. She said weather like Monday nightâ??s storms could easily put the project behind schedule.