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Morning headlines: January 23, 2012

Missouri Department of Transportation Director Kevin Keith.
Courtesy Missouri Department of Transportation
Missouri Department of Transportation Director Kevin Keith.

MoDOT Director: Wouldn't take public vote to rebuild I-70 using tolls

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that director Kevin Keith says private sector companies would fund the project and collect tolls to recoup their investment. Keith has outlined a proposal to rebuild the rural stretch of I-70 between Highway 40-61 near Wentzville and Interstate 470 near Kansas City. The project could cost $2 billion to $4 billion.

Keith says that with highway funding in scarce supply, an I-70 toll road appears to be the most viable option. But the Missouri Trucking Association says the I-70 toll question should go to voters. Previous efforts to pass constitutional amendments to permit state toll roads and bridges have failed.

Ill. legislator introduces proposal to ban drivers from using cell phones

It's already illegal to text when you're behind the wheel and some local ordinances only allow drivers to use hands-free devices for their phones. But Representative John D'Amico wants to go beyond those limitations.

The Chicago Democrat introduced a measure that would ban motorists from using mobile devices at all. He says he understands the idea may be unpopular with drivers who have become accustomed to making calls from the road.

"As far as inconvenience, I don't buy that argument at all," said D'Amico. "Because we're talking about safety, we're talking about saving people's lives. There is nothing inconvenient about that. When you're on the phone and you're driving a vehicle, it's not just yourself that you're worried about. You're taking other people's lives in your hands. Because if you are not driving that vehicle in the proper manner, you're putting other people's lives at risk as well."

D'Amico says he has ideas about how he could scale back the measure. But he's waiting to unveil them in hopes of gaining enough support for a total ban.

East Coast buyer pays $210,000 for Bonnie and Clyde guns

Two guns thought to have been used by bank-robbing fugitives Bonnie and Clyde have snatched $210,000 at an auction in Kansas City, Mo. The Joplin Globe reported an online bidder from the East Coast on Saturday bought the weapons believed to have been seized from the outlaw couple's Joplin hideout in 1933.

Sold were a .45-caliber, fully automatic Thompson submachine gun- better known as a Tommy gun - and a 1897 Winchester 12-gauge shotgun. Mayo Auction, of Kansas City, was not given permission to release the name of the buyer.

Two law enforcement officers died during a shootout at the Joplin apartment where the couple and members of their gang were holed up, but all the members of the Clyde Barrow gang escaped.