ST. CHARLES – City officials expected Red Gate Bridge would relieve about 10 percent of traffic on Main Street, and an early count indicates its effect on the thoroughfare might be even more, city administrator Brian Townsend said.
Beginning at 10:45 a.m. Dec. 17 – the first business day the bridge was open – the city conducted a 24-hour traffic count. By the time it ended at 10:45 a.m. Dec. 18, 2,686 eastbound vehicles and 2,512 westbound vehicles had crossed the bridge for a total of use of 5,198 cars.
That count surpasses 10 percent of the traffic count for the Main Street Bridge, which was 30,281 in 2012, Townsend said.
"The fact that we exceed that by a very significant number on that first day was a surprise to us, and a pleasant one," he said.
He acknowledged the city must see whether the daily use holds, as the mid-December count might have included motorists who used the bridge out of curiosity. St. Charles plans to conduct a count in the summer to allow more time for people to find their preferred method of travel, he said.
"It's not a perfect count because it's still early," Townsend said.
The city's other bridges – Illinois Street and Prairie Street – respectively saw about 6,200 and 8,900 vehicles daily in 2012. Both are downtown.
Red Gate Bridge is St. Charles' northernmost river crossing and extends Red Gate Road to Route 25.
Construction on Red Gate Bridge began in August 2011. It opened to vehicular traffic on Dec. 15 after an indoor ceremony at St. Charles North High School and a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the bridge.
No issues have been reported thus far, Townsend said. He said he has heard feedback directly and indirectly about the bridge saving motorists time.
Although Red Gate Bridge is open to vehicular traffic, work continues on the pedestrian and bicycle pathway, which is expected to be completed next spring.