St. Louis-Illinois toll bridge an unpopular idea

News St. Louis Post-Dispatch September 05, 2006
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Residents on both sides of the Mississippi River oppose the idea of using tolls to fund a proposed St. Louis-Illinois bridge, a new poll has found.

Illinoisans, who would pay the bulk of any toll, oppose it the most, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch/KMOV-TV (Channel 4) Research 2000 poll.

Officials in both states have agreed on the need to build a new bridge to ease traffic congestion, but they disagree on how to fund it, the Post-Dispatch reported. Missouri officials have suggested a toll of as much as $2 a trip, but Illinois officials oppose that idea, noting that Illinoisans would likely use the bridge more often than Missourians.

A poll conducted last week for the Post-Dispatch asked residents in both states whether they favor or oppose the idea of a toll to offset construction costs of a new bridge.

The poll found opponents of the idea outnumbered supporters in both states, with the most fervent opposition coming from Illinois, the newspaper reported.

Missourians split 41% in favor to 44% opposed to the idea, with 15% undecided.

There was less ambiguity in Illinois. Just 36% of respondents said they favored the idea, while 55% opposed it. Nine percent were unsure.

“I would never go across that bridge if I had to pay a $2 toll,” said poll respondent Alene Perdun.

Officials in both states worked together on a plan that initially would have called for an eight-lane, $910 million, to be funded by both states. But Missouri had trouble coming up with a funding source, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Missouri officials have suggested that a toll would be a way to offset the cost. Illinois leaders have strongly rejected that idea, saying they would rather scale back the scope of the project to lower the cost, possibly making it a four-lane companion to the Martin Luther King Bridge, according to the newspaper.

The poll was conducted for the Post-Dispatch and KMOV-TV (Channel 4) last week by Research 2000, a Maryland polling firm. Research 2000 conducts polls for more than 80 news outlets around the country.

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