MODOT counter-proposes Mississippi River bridge funding plan
By Kevin Lavery, KWMU
St. Louis, MO – Illinois and Missouri have been at an impasse for months over how to pay for the proposed $910 million bridge.
Missouri supports charging a $2.00 toll.
Illinois opposes that, instead favoring a smaller, less expensive "coupler" bridge parallel to the Martin Luther King Jr. bridge in north St. Louis.
Now, the Missouri Department of Transportation wants Illinois to agree to a unique public-private partnership that begins with no investment from either state.
MODOT director Pete Rahn says both states would then seek private dollars.
"We would see what they (investors) would offer towards construction of a bridge," Rahn said. "At that point, if we have to add federal funds, we would...and if that's not enough, at that point Illinois and Missouri need to sit down and come up with a way to fund a gap if it exists."
Illinois Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson views the offer with cautious optimism.
"I'm not going to shut the door on anything," Watson said. "But if Illinois puts $210 million and the feds put $239 million and Missouri puts nothing and tolls the bridge...that isn't going to work. But we have a new proposal that's out there we'll take a look at that I think merits consideration."
Missouri officials say a bond issue is not feasible because of the unique structure of the public-private partnership.