The Illinois Senate's top Republican called for a closer look at Missouri's plans to pay for a new eight-lane Interstate 70 bridge across the Mississippi River by making it a tollway.
Sen. Frank Watson, R-Greenville, the Senate minority leader, said Wednesday the idea of seeking bids from private firms to build and operate the bridge as a tollway is "something that may be considered."
Watson's willingness to consider such a proposal stands in stark contrast to positions claimed by the metro-east's Democratic lawmakers, who have vehemently rejected the tollway concept as unfair to Illinois commuters.
Their views line up with anti-toll positions staked out by U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, and Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who two weeks ago during a visit to Collinsville declared the toll bridge idea "was out of the question."
Of course, read the whole thing to get more background on the situation. St. Louis does need a new bridge. The problem is that Missouri expects everyone in Illinois to pay for it, first with the money the state is willing to pony up, then with the ridiculous toll that will come mostly from Illinois residents. And who collects the toll? They're now talking about it being an independent company (I guess they finance the bridge in exchange for collecting tolls), though Missouri originally said they would collect the money.
Their one-sidedness on this issue is astounding. And plans to make only one of the roads a tollway will only make things worse. Traffic will become more crowded on the free bridges, but I'm fairly certain people will deal with the traffic if it means saving $2 on their daily commute (My mother, for example, would pay $10/wk, or ~$480/yr on top of her current commuting costs).
It goes without saying that I'm against the toll idea. Both sides need this bridge, but I hope that IL-lawmakers don't agree to its construction until MO-lawmakers realize that compromise means sacrifice on the part of both parties.