The Sun Sets on Highway 40

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Late in the afternoon in December my family and I took one last drive down Highway 40, knowing that much of what we were seeing would be gone within weeks of the closure on January 1st. What has been lost to all of the traffic is the elegance of much of the highway, including graceful lines of the McCutcheon overpass.

Below is the gentle curve through the woods in Ladue; the road initially was intended as a leisurely parkway through western St. Louis County, and the road often took rush-hour gridlock inducing wendings such as this.

Below is the famed superbridge over the intersection of Warson and Clayton Roads. As of this writing, they had just finished removing this bridge. It was notable for its concrete inscribed writing that labeled the roads below.

I was always fascinated by the overgrowth that had literally eaten the fence that was installed along the highway. One could no longer tell where the steel ended and the overgroth began. The trees and vines that wrapped themselves around the fence contorted themselves into various bizarre shapes and angles.

I snapped this mediocre picture of the Lindbergh overpass after the closure in January. I like this picture because the green highway signs have been removed, allowing the viewer to see the original, stream-lined form of perhaps the most notable bridge to be torn down.

Highway 40 had to be upgraded, and not simply to pander to residents of Chesterfield. It was dangerous, and simply doing piecemeal reconstruction would be a bigger waste of money. I am fascinated at how well St. Louis has handled the closure; likewise, it raises the question of how really necessary the interstate was in the first place. Here is a great set of photos of the bridges at Vanishing St. Louis’s Flickr account.

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