by Eric M. Vest
The new St. Louis Interstate 70 Bridge is under construction across the Mississippi River between St. Clair County, Illinois and the city of St. Louis, Missouri. The structure will relieve traffic on nearby bridges, most importantly the Poplar Street Bridge, which carries I-55, I-64, I-70, and US 40.
Ground was broken on April 19, 2010. In 2012, both the Missouri and Illinois approaches were under construction. Completion is scheduled for 2014.
The funding of the bridge project was debated by the Illinois and Missouri governments. After receiving the Federal grant, Illinois pushed to start as soon as possible, but Missouri said it had more pressing highway projects to work on. Missouri transportation officials proposed to privatize the bridge, which would have allowed a private company to charge tolls in return for building, operating, and maintaining the bridge for up to 99 years. Illinois officials and several St. Louis congressmen demanded a toll-free crossing and this was ratified by an agreement signed February 28, 2008, by the Missouri and Illinois governors.