Why the Poplar Street Bridge can be fury road for drivers

About a month ago, I wrote about five worst places to drive in St. Louis. The Poplar Street Bridge was mentioned, and a comment today on the article sparked a deeper dive into the traffic death trap that connects Illinois with the Lou. Here’s what commenter Kyle had to say about the article:

“Your over simplification of the Poplar Street Bridge makes me think you’re one of the people causing problems on it.”

Well, well, well. Let’s talk about that, KYYYYLLLLEEEEEE! (George Carlin voice)

When I travel across the Poplar, it’s in three main directions. Coming eastbound on I-64, northbound on I-55, or westbound back towards STL after I am done doing whatever that was needed to be done across the bridge. Let’s just say I am headed for Sauget and it’s not to make Lane Thomas’s bed at the baseball facility over there.

Coming down 55, which I call the backdoor into downtown entry, I can’t even come off the I-44 ramp before a legion of semi-trucks approach the same destination as my car: THE POPLAR! On a highway carrying, at least for a time, at least four lanes, you need to be in the right two to enter the bridge. That is, if the semi-trucks don’t breach your lane and nearly shove you into a wall. Before a truck driver jumps on here right after pulling the wedgie out of his ass, take a breath. I can’t drive long-distance or out of my city without being nearly run off the road by a monstrous truck who couldn’t give two shits about anyone else around them on the road.

And then there are the bad drivers, the ones who enter traffic and manage to become even worse drivers in the span of five seconds. They get antsy around said semi-trucks, and also roll into my lane. I almost always go the speed limit around this area, because doing more than that will lead to an accident. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes, driving drunk people back over to Illinois past midnight.

So, Kyle, I am going the speed limit and staying in my lane as I approach Sauget. If I have to drive to Belleville, then it’s like going from Fury Road to Death Race 2000, because there are at least 100 potholes, missing chunks of concrete, and other entrapments between I-55 northbound and the eventual I-64 eastbound to Louisville connection. Your car HATES this strip of driving. My goal the entire time: keep the car and myself in one piece.

Just imagine doing everything you can in order to get to Mississippi Avenue or Caseyville, and that’s me. Going back over the Poplar towards St. Louis involves making split-second decisions, including deciding which highway you are taking home. When I say seconds, there is no kidding. Between the cars going 70 mph for no damn reason-it’s a speed limit, not a starting point-and the trucks raging all over the road, time can’t be wasted. I choose the straight-ahead route due to the fact that driving right past Busch Stadium-where it’s essentially on your right shoulder for a matter of seconds-never gets old.

So Kyle, I don’t think I’m the problem-unless you define “the problem” as simply trying to get across the bridge in one piece while staying in my lane and right around the speed limit. Thanks for taking the time and peeling that particular sticker off my dose. Right when I think material is the last thing I need, this comes along.

Here’s the thing. Don’t drive like an asshat. Be nice or don’t be a dick. Quite easy and the rule applies in and outside the car. It’s hard enough for people to be nice in person. If only we could be civil while behind the wheel.

Safe driving to you all, especially when traveling across the very terrible, never-improving, dogshit Poplar Street Bridge. Even to you, Kyle.

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