Back in the summer, I took a walk on a closed road that was being rebuilt and wasn't open to traffic yet. That was practice for today's Thing, where I walked on an Interstate that hadn't been opened to traffic.
I had a lot of company today, though. Highway 40 (also known as I-64) is a major route through the St. Louis area. Parts of the road were built in the 1930s and were overdue for a renovation. The highway department decided it the whole job could be done faster and more efficiently if they completely shut down portions of the highway. They closed five miles at the beginning of this year. (Now that it's completed they're closing a second five-mile section until the end of 2009.)
Before they cut the ribbon for the new section this afternoon they opened the lanes to everyone but drivers. There were organized runs and bike rides in the westbound lanes, but the eastbound lanes were open for anyone.
It was quite a party; there were hundreds of people on the newly-constructed area. I saw people walking, running, bike riding, skateboarding, and even a man on a Segway. There were grandparents, teenagers, young children in strollers, and entire families out for a bike ride or stroll. A lot of people had cameras or video cameras to record the whole thing for posterity.
The highway pavement was in perfect shape. It was nearly white, with no skid marks or oil stains to dirty it. In some places the meridian walls had been chalked and were quite colorful. I found a piece of chalk and added a design to the ones already there.
Although traffic will be using the road starting tomorrow, there's still some cosmetic things that need to be done on this section. Not all the sound walls were up in the section we walked on, and there was some landscaping at the bottom of one of the exit ramps that was waiting to be installed. I'm looking forward to driving on this section soon to see what it looks like from behind the wheel.