© 2024 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Missouri, Illinois say Mississippi River Bridge must happen

By Adam Allington, KWMU


St. Louis, MO – Transportation officials from Missouri and Illinois met in St. Louis on Tuesday to renew their discussion about a new Interstate 70 Bridge over the Mississippi River.

The proposal has been deadlocked for years as Illinois won't allow tolls while Missouri claims a lack of highway funds.

Currently 3 interstates and one U.S. route are all channeled over the Poplar St. Bridge in Downtown St. Louis and traffic backups are routine.

Ed Hassinger from the Missouri Department of Transportation says the collapse of 35W Bridge in Minneapolis should remind us that states have an obligation to not only fund new projects, but also maintain existing ones.

"Definitely it's heightened the sense of awareness of what our infrastructure is really all about and how much more are you willing to spend on new and improved things when you know you've got to take care of that."

Both Illinois and Missouri agree that a new bridge is critical; they just can't agree how to pay for it.

Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder says he tolls aren't the answer then in the same sentence he basically suggests they are.

"I'm not suggesting tolls here, but we need to think big and not merely tax increases as a source of funding, but this privatizing notion that is sweeping transportation."

Republican State Representative Neal St. Onge chairs the Missouri House Transportation Committee.

"The bottom line is there is two ways to pay for transportation it's either taxes or tolls, or a combination of both its going to take more money."

The site of the proposed bridge would divert eight lanes of Interstate 70 one mile north of the Martin Luther King Bridge and away from downtown.

That plan is projected to cost over 900 million dollars. Illinois has suggested that given budget shortages in Missouri a 3-lane coupler on the MLK Bridge could be a solution.

Missouri rejected that idea because it would still funnel traffic into downtown St. Louis.