Morning headlines: Monday, April 9, 2012

Public meeting to be held on City-Arch-River Project

Members of the public will have another chance to weigh in on one of the most controversial parts of the City-Arch-River 2015 project - what to do about the portion of Interstate 70 that runs through downtown.

The Missouri Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting on its plans for the depressed section of the interstate at St. Louis City Hall on Tuesday.

Greg Horn will oversee the project for MoDOT. He says the agency prefers an option that builds a pedestrian "park" over the highway - but says the public will still have influence.

"There's always room for improvement," said Horn. "We haven't designed it yet. We just have some options out there, and it's always good to have public comments and they give us some good ideas at some points that w can include in our design."

But Horn says the agency is not considering the popular option of removing the highway entirely - saying MoDOT has concerns about traffic flow and would not be able to complete such a project by the 2015 timeline.

Mo.'s Amber Alert could be expanded

Missouri's Amber Alert system could be expanded to include certain fugitives as well as missing children, under a bill moving through the Legislature.

The state's Amber Alert system was created in 2003 to identify and help find missing or abducted children. Alerts are transmitted to the public through the news media, on state websites and messages to cellphones.

Legislation approved by the House would also allow an Amber Alert to be issued for any person who flees after assaulting or injuring a law enforcement officer. The provision is part of a larger crime bill now moving through the Senate.

If the legislation passes, the state would have to adopt procedures to expand the Amber Alert system by next Jan. 1.

Jefferson County has highest smoking rate in St. Louis area

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that 30 percent of Jefferson County adults smoke, according to figures released last week by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. By comparison, just 18 percent of St. Louis County adults, 17 percent of St. Charles County adults and 9 percent of Monroe County, Ill., adults smoke. Nationwide, the study shows that 19 percent of adults smoke. In Missouri, 24 percent light up.