10/30/12 – Area Commuters Make New Travel Arrangements to Avoid Looming Blanchette Bridge Traffic

ST. CHARLES, Mo.,  OCT. 30, 2012… With just days to go until all the westbound lanes of the Blanchette Bridge are officially closed to vehicles for a year-long, $63 million rehabilitation project, area commuters are making plans to avoid the worst of the anticipated traffic headaches. By the morning rush on Monday, Nov. 5, westbound traffic will be rerouted to the eastbound lanes of the bridge, which will be adjusted to accommodate three lanes of traffic moving in each direction.  While many will likely head out to make their usual trek across the bridge despite the warnings of heavy traffic congestion during the morning and afternoon rush, RideFinders, the regional ridesharing agency, reports that a variety of commuters are already making arrangements to do their part to remove vehicles from the heavily traveled span and hopefully enjoy a less stressful commute themselves.

Nancy Birch works in Westport and typically drives across the Blanchette Bridge from O’Fallon, Mo., every morning.  After learning about the bridge construction project, she decided to begin sharing the ride to work with her husband, who works in Hazelwood.  It’s a decision that enables her to avoid the bridge altogether by taking 370 instead and has put her on a path to a variety of other benefits since officially registering their new carpool with RideFinders.

“The closing of the bridge was a major factor in our decision to carpool together,” said Birch, whose new carpool route takes her a little out of her way but is, in her opinion, well worth it to avoid the bridge congestion and more. “We estimate that we will collectively save more than $180 per month in gas and we are confident that we have a way home through RideFinders’ Guaranteed Ride Home program if one of us has to work late.”

The Guaranteed Ride Home program is available to registered commuters who share the ride to work in a carpool or vanpool if their employer is registered with RideFinders. It entitles the registered carpooler or vanpooler to up to four free taxi rides home per year in the event that they have to work late or leave work early due to an emergency.

Of the many vanpools currently registered with RideFinders and using the Blanchette Bridge, several have confirmed that they also are already planning to try various alternate routes once the lanes close to find the one that works best for them.  While that may help them to avoid the worst of the traffic, they anticipate whichever route they go, they’ll be looking at a longer overall commute time, but at least they’ll be enjoying the other benefits that come with sharing the ride.

“If they’re going to be adding more time to their commute, at least they can put that time to good use if they’re not stuck behind the wheel every day,” notes Joe Wright, director of RideFinders. “Whether it’s catching up on paper work or email, the news or social networking, or simply enjoying the companionship of fellow carpoolers, those who share the ride in a carpool or vanpool arrive at work and back home with a little less stress because they got something accomplished along the way.”

RideFinders encourages other solo commuters to consider carpooling and vanpooling in order to help reduce the total number of cars commuting through the impacted area while the project is underway. Already I,500 commuters living in St. Charles County are registered with RideFinders free ridematching service seeking to form a new carpool or vanpool or expand an existing one, and more commuters are signing up every day. An additional 750 commuters working but not living in St. Charles County also are registered and interested in ridesharing.

“With so many commuters already in the system, other impacted commuters signing up should find a variety of carpool or vanpool options readily available to share the ride during this landmark project,” adds Wright.

RideFinders FREE ridematching service for commuters can be accessed online at www.ridefinders.org or over the phone by calling 800-VIP-RIDE.  Commuters simply enter or provide their home and work info, then receive a “matchlist” of commuters or vanpools. Commuters then contact the other commuters or vanpool contacts on the “matchlist” to form or join a carpool or vanpool.

RideFinders also encourages employers and schools in the impacted area to consider joining the regional ridesharing program to help promote these alternatives to their employees and students. The agency currently works with 100 participating municipalities/employers/colleges in the areas of St. Charles and St. Louis counties that have been actively sharing information and encouraging their employees to consider ridesharing.  There is no cost or liability for employers or colleges to participate, and their involvement enables RideFinders to provide ridesharing info and incentives like the free Guaranteed Ride Home.

For more information, contact:

Julie Hauser, The Hauser Group (314) 223-6330

Joe Wright, Director of RideFinders (800) 847-7433