Illinois and Missouri still divided on bridge
By Maria Hickey, KWMU
St. Louis, MO. – A vote taken Wednesday by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments on a Mississippi River Bridge proposal was split right up the river.
The vote split 12-10 with Illinois officials in favor and Missouri officials against a plan to support the less-expensive Coupler option.
Two Missouri members could not attend.
The coupler option put forward Wednesday would cost $525 million. The money would come from federal and Illinois funds dedicated to a bridge project, as well as $25 million from the East-West Gateway Council. It would require no direct funds from MO-DOT.
St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern says it's the only way to build a bridge without Missouri money.
"If Missouri really wants to build this bridge they can," Kern said. "And today, at East-West Gateway, we found a way for them to do it, but they really have to want to build this bridge."
But Missouri officials didn't see it as a bargain. MO-DOT engineer Ed Hassinger says there are lingering questions about approaches to the bridge on the Missouri side.
"You get what you pay for and if it clogs up the entire region on the St. Louis side it's a problem," he said.
Missouri officials, including the governor, want to continue discussions on a toll bridge.
Illinois officials say they won't agree to tolls.