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Illinois considering pared-down bridge idea

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The MLK Bridge meets St. Louis near the Edward Jones Dome.

By AP/KWMU

East St. Louis, Ill. – Leaders in Illinois have been studying a different way to build a new bridge across the Mississippi River.

The new idea being kicked around would have a second bridge built right next to the Martin Luther King Bridge to carry traffic one direction. The lanes on the King bridge would then be changed to go the other direction.

This new plan is cheaper than the current plan for a two-directional bridge north of the Edward Jones Dome.

Transportation officials in Missouri are not commenting because they haven't seen the plan.

Illinois and Missouri have been wrangling over how to pay for the current bridge, which would cost an estimated $910 million. Missouri lawmakers passed legislation this spring that would allow for tolls to be collected to pay for the bridge, but Illinois officials strongly oppose tolls.

The second, or coupler, bridge at the MLK would cost as much as $450 million.

Top lawmakers from Illinois joined representatives of the governor's office and transportation officials in briefing labor and business leaders about the scaled-down plan Tuesday.

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