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Study: Drivers would use other bridges, rather than pay toll


By Adam Allington, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – An independent study says drivers would use alternate routes rather than pay a toll on the proposed Mississippi River bridge.

The study released Monday shows that any toll, even one as low as $1, would result in drivers taking existing bridges instead.

The study is part of an effort by the East-West Gateway Council to salvage 15 years of planning for a new bridge amidst an impasse over how to pay for it.

The report was compiled by Sharon Green and Associates together with InfraConsult. Included in the 22-page document were cost analysis, traffic flow predictions and economic implications but at the end of the day, Missouri wants a toll bridge, Illinois says tolls would unfairly burden cross-river commuters.

Illinois is concerned that if the stalemate is not broken quickly the state may loose or risk loosing a $239 million federal earmark.

"The thing to keep in mind with that transportation bill, that was the largest earmark that any project received in the entire nation", says Mary Lamie, an engineer for IDOT.

"We competed well for this funding because the project has vital national significance."

Still, some people on the Missouri side feel that the state should come up with their portion of the construction money by partnering with private enterprise.

Mayor Francis Slay has not weighed in on either side of the toll question, but feels the project is of the utmost important for regional economic development.

"As long as Missouri says we're gonna have tolls or it's not gonna be built and as long as Illinois says no tolls no way no how, we're not gonna get a bridge," says Slay.

"Failing to plan for the long term transportation needs for the region will only make us suffer for many years in the future."

Consultants hired to produce the report are not expected to offer a solution to the funding problem.

The hope is that data and information contained in the study will encourage the state governments to work toward a compromise.


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