Lawmakers authorize toll bridge

Saturday, May 13, 2006

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- It's still far from a certainty, but a proposed toll bridge over the Mississippi River at St. Louis made its first move toward reality Friday as Missouri lawmakers gave their consent.

Legislation given final approval by a 134-23 House vote would allow the estimated $910 million bridge to be built with a combination of federal and private funds. Under the public-private partnership, private investors could charge tolls to recoup their costs for the bridge.

The bill passed the Senate 31-0 on Tuesday and now goes to the governor.

Officials at the Missouri Department of Transportation are enthusiastic about the potential of using tolls, but Illinois officials have not agreed to the plan.

"We just do not have the resources to undertake a project of this magnitude" using traditional road and bridge funds, said Missouri Transportation Department Director Pete Rahn. "The obvious question now is can we reach an agreement with Illinois?"

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