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New Don Welge Memorial Bridge Underway in Chester

CHESTER, IL — The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) recently joined state and local leaders, along with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), to officially announce the start of construction of the new Don Welge Memorial Bridge, a project made possible by Gov. JB Pritzker's Rebuild Illinois capital program.

"My administration is proud to be transforming our state's infrastructure, and I've made it my mission to improve bridges, railways, roads, bike paths, and more to better serve our communities," Pritzker said. "By 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."

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

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

"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."

Built in 1942, the bridge accommodates 7,000 vehicles daily, connecting much of the region's agricultural traffic, industries and travelers on the river's southern Illinois and southeast Missouri sides.

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