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Murray Baker Bridge to close in March

The Murray Baker Bridge is scheduled to undergo construction beginning on March 29 through Oct. 31. The university has suggested a specific route to campus. Photo by Haley Johnson.

Peoria drivers, beginning on March 29, will be affected by construction that may increase their commutes by up to an hour.

The Murray Baker Bridge, the main route between East Peoria and Peoria, will close for renovation until late October, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).

Approximately 67,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day, according to IDOT. With the closure, that traffic will now have to be entirely rerouted. The Public Information Officer for the IDOT, Paul Wappel, said he doesn’t anticipate any decrease in travel to East Peoria.

While IDOT has suggested an alternative route for general traffic, University Spokesperson Renee Charles met with IDOT to create a specific route for those coming to Bradley that will avoid interstate traffic.

“For events like commencement, visit days, [and] Ollie events, people are going to need to know this information,” Charles said.

According to IDOT, a general GPS will route traffic from the Bob Michel Bridge through Perry Street back to the interstate. However, the university advises drivers to instead take a left at Romeo B. Garrett Avenue after the bridge to get to Bradley more efficiently.

“We’ve chosen this route partly because there’s already signage there directing you to Bradley,” Charles said. “It’s easier for traffic to just follow the signs.”

In order to communicate the alternative route, the university created a page, bradley.edu/ directions, that contains a downloadable map with the new directions. Charles has also set up meetings with administration to spread communication to the campus community.

“Keep in mind it’s going to take a lot longer to get there, and I’d say avoid peak travel times,” Charles said.

For students who frequently travel to East Peoria, this closure will be more of an inconvenience.

Senior health science major Sierra Hedin is from Bloomington and travels to East Peoria at least once a week either to go home or to get groceries.

“If I can avoid traffic and go somewhere else, even if it’s far away, I would prefer that than sitting in traffic,” Hedin said. “The bridge was closed a couple of times this summer and I took alternate routes.”

For more information about the bridge project and traffic updates, visit gettingaroundpeoria.com.

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