Even politicians are having a tough time swallowing the idea of naming the new Mississippi River bridge after ... politicians.
Illinois Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Highland, said he would be "embarrassed" if Missouri and Illinois followed through and named the new $229.5 million span the "Jerry F. Costello-William Lacy 'Bill' Clay Sr. Veterans Memorial Bridge." Then again, he is a bit close to the issue.
Stephens has a bill pending in the Illinois Legislature to name it simply the Veterans Memorial Bridge. Stephens is not new to this debate, either. Years ago, he opposed renaming the previous Veterans Memorial Bridge the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge.
Knowing that the new bridge name would have to be blessed by lawmakers in both states, he reached out to the Missouri House speaker to garner support for his proposal. He never heard back, and his bill is stuck in the House Rules Committee.
"With all due respect to the congressmen, in my opinion it would appear selfish and an insult to our veterans if we don't name this bridge the Veterans Memorial Bridge," Stephens said.
Post-Dispatch and STLtoday.com readers have given an overwhelming thumbs down to naming the new Mississippi River bridge after Rep. Costello of Belleville and former Rep. Clay of St. Louis. My colleague, Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan, has taken up the cause too, suggesting it be named the Johnny B. Goode Bridge.
As loyal readers of Along for the Ride may recall, people weighed in last spring with suggestions of their own, which we narrowed to a handful and put to a popular vote. The Dred Scott Bridge elbowed out the Stan Musial Bridge, or the Stan Span for short.
Of course, popular votes don't mean as much as they used to — particularly in Missouri. As STLtoday.com blogger ramsfan63129 put it so astutely: "We could let the people vote on a name and then the politicians could repeal our vote and name it what they wished."
Perhaps the Prop. B/Dog Breeder's Bridge or the Concealed-Carry Bridge to commemorate breathtaking legislative end runs around the Missouri electorate.
Several of you again offered a very frugal idea. With states being in such dire straits financially, why not sell the naming rights? Imagine the Dirt Cheap Bridge, one reader suggested. Or the Krispy Kreme Bridge.
"With 'traffic and weather together every 10 minutes,' you could guarantee exposure to some lucky corporation several times an hour on AM radio," story commenter dkriss1 wrote on STLtoday.com.
Ultimately, the two states will have to shake hands on the name for this bridge. Given the political tension this project has already sparked between Illinois and Missouri lawmakers, perhaps they will never be able to agree on a name. Maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing.
We could just call it the Interstate 70 or the new Mississippi River Bridge.
Given the alternative, it would be like music to our ears.
Q. What is the deal with the left turn lane going south on Telegraph, at the entrance to Walmart? There used to be two lanes to turn left, and then one of the lanes was done away with using stripes painted on the road, to force two lanes into one. They did not take the space from this second lane and use it to enlarge any other part of the road, and the line to turn left into Walmart was long enough when it was two lanes. Now with only one, it is even worse. What purpose is this serving, and why was it done?
— Sue, south St. Louis County
A. It was changed from a double left to a single left turn because there was not enough traffic to justify the two left turn lanes from southbound Telegraph to Barracksview, said Missouri Department of Transportation spokeswoman Linda Wilson. Developers of the Walmart predicted more demand for that left turn movement than what actually materialized, Wilson said. In addition, there is a lot of northbound traffic coming from Interstate 255 and making a right turn at the signal. Having the single left turn produces less conflict between cars entering the Walmart from the opposing directions.
"We will continue to monitor the intersection over time, and if traffic demand increases to the point that a double left is needed, we can consider that," Wilson said in an e-mail.