Construction begins on new Don Welge Memorial Bridge, Illinois

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The Illinois Department of Transportation has announced the start of the construction of the new Don Welge Memorial Bridge. The project has been made possible by Gov. JB Pritzker’s historic, bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital program.

Through a combined $307.1 million investment between Illinois and Missouri, the project will replace the ageing Chester Bridge. The bridge carries Illinois 150 and Missouri 51 over the Mississippi River from Randolph County to Perry County, Missouri. It will provide a safe and reliable transportation solution for the region. Furthermore, courtesy of Rebuild Illinois, IDOT is investing approximately $143.2 million into the bridge and Illinois approach.

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The project, which will be overseen by MoDOT and constructed using a design-build approach, will be completed in December 2026. Further, the new bridge will be named in honour of former Chester resident and longtime bridge advocate Don Welge.

History on the Don Welge Memorial Bridge

Built in 1942, the bridge accommodates 7,000 vehicles daily. It connects much of the region’s agricultural traffic, industries and travellers on the river’s southern Illinois and southeast Missouri sides. Additionally, the project will replace the two 11-foot lanes with two 12-foot lanes with shoulders. This makes the bridge twice as wide while also addressing longtime draining and flooding issues.

“My administration is proud to be transforming our state’s infrastructure. I’ve made it my mission to improve bridges, railways, roads, bike paths, and more to better serve our communities,” said Gov. Pritzker. “Additionally, investing in the Don Welge Memorial Bridge through our landmark Rebuild Illinois capital plan, we’re ensuring innovation, safety, and reliability for thousands of drivers every day.”

“The new Chester bridge is another investment in safety, mobility and improved quality of life via Rebuild Illinois,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “We are proud of the partnership with Missouri to replace and upgrade another of our border bridges, which are essential to the economy and livelihood of the entire Midwest.”