Morning round-up
7:22 am
Mon May 21, 2012

Morning headlines - Monday, May 21, 2012

Eads Bridge over budget, behind schedule

Elected officials from Missouri and Illinois will gather tomorrow at the Eads Bridge to break ground on a $36 million rehabilitation project for the 138-year-old structure.

But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch finds that the federally-funded  project is over budget and behind schedule.

The Post-Dispatch reviewed documents relating to the project, which is being overseen by the transit agency, Metro.  The $36.3 million cost for replacement of light rail tracks and the sandblasting and painting of the steel, is well above the initial $23 million price. The delay, which appears to be due to a dispute over what kind of agreement to sign with unions, has drawn a rebuke from the federal government because the project is funded using stimulus dollars and was supposed to be "shovel-ready."

Metro CEO John Nations told the Post-Dispatch that the agency has more than enough money to pay for the restoration, and will get it finished by the 2015 deadline. And he says the original bid underestimated the cost of containing stripped paint.

Shimkus aide picked as GOP candidate in Illinois' 13th Congressional District

Reporting for this story came from Sean Crawford in Springfield and Jeff Bossert in Champaign.

An aide to Republican Congressman John Shimkus is the GOP nominee to fill the seat in the new 13th Congressional district in Illinois.

GOP county chairman from the district, which stretches from Bloomington to the St. Louis area, met Saturday behind closed doors to pick Rodney Davis of Taylorville for the spot. Davis beat out three other hopefuls, including a former Miss America.

"It was a weighty and very difficult decision to make, but one I think [the chairmen] were very proud to be involved with," said Mike Bigger, the chairman of the Stark County Republican party who was brought in from outside the district to head the selection committee. "I think they feel very confident that Rodney Davis is going to win this seat, and everyone who is here is going to support Rodney and making him the next Congressman in the 13th."

Davis will replace Rep. Tom Johnson on the ballot. Johnson retired after winning his primary contest.

Davis will face Bloomington physician David Gill. Gill says he looks forward to a spirited campaign against Davis - but calls his opponent the "ultimate Washington insider" who supports tax breaks for large corporations.

"People like Mr. Davis have been a part of the problem in terms of job losss and economic insecurity for people," Gill said. "Retirement insecurity - education being unaffordable - you know, we need people in Washington D.C. who care about the well-being of ordinary citizens.  And that starts by being funded by ordinary citizens."

Alton looks to erect Miles Davis statue

An effort is underway in Alton to honor native son Miles Davis with a statue.

Davis was born in the southwestern Illinois city in 1926 and later moved to East St. Louis. He died in 1991.

Alton mayor Tom Hoescht says he wants to put a life-sized statue of Davis in the heart of the city’s entertainment district. The city hosts the Miles Davis Jazz Festival every year.

The Alton Telegraph reports that the festival committee will ask artists for sketches before granting a commission. No word yet on cost.