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The gleaming white cables of the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge tower above the TANSCOM Color Guard and the Budweiser Clydesdales carrying the Musial family in the ceremonial first crossing, following the official ribbon cutting ceremony, Saturday, February 8, 2014.
I-70 Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge Debuts to Public
Tim O'Reilly (right), a five-year Air Force veteran, who brought his grandson, Sheamus O'Reilly (age 9) and son, Mike, to share the historical moment walking across the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge, said "It's a memory for my grandson, fifty years from now. He can say, "me and my grandpa walked that bridge on the day it opened."
Neil Schrepel from Arnold, MO, described the pictures of the bridge construction to his sons Mason (age 3), and Aiden (age 7, not shown). "We came down here in spring of 2012 and I took their picture down there looking up," Schrepel said pointing to a wooded area south of the structure. "We've come back a couple of times to take their picture as the bridge kept getting bigger and bigger. So, we had to come to this opening."
"It's a bridge for jobs," Governor Pat Quinn said proudly when he met four young apprentices in the Highway Construction Careers Training Program at Southwestern Illinois College who worked on the bridge.
"This is more than a bridge, it is a road to opportunity for the thousands of people in Illinois and Missouri," stated U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, in opening remarks for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said, "Stan epitomized consistent excellence as an athlete and a set a standard for sportsmanship that few have ever come close to attaining."
by Betty Moore, email@example.com
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), February 8, 2014 - The new $695 million cable-stayed Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge stands 88 feet wide with 1,500 feet between two concrete towers rising majestically 400 feet above the Mississippi River.
On Saturday, February 8, 2014, fours years after construction began, the bridge became an historical moment to share past experiences and create new memories for thousands of families, friends and the curious who attended the opening ceremonies on a frigid winter day.
"It was actually a lot colder last night for the lighting of the bridge," said St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay, as dignitaries and elective officials began arriving to take their place on the stage set up on the east bound lanes at the Illinois state line in the middle of the structure.
Mayor Slay commented enthusiastically that it was great to see so many people come to the opening. "This is really a big deal for the region. It's another connection between Illinois and Missouri and downtown St. Louis. It's really going to help with the traffic flow in a big way."
Mayor Slay stated that the bridge is an icon and an engineering marvel. "It's the third longest cable-stayed bridge in the United States. And, it represents a big investment that took a lot of people to put together," he said looking toward the crowd gathered in front of the stage.
"This is more than a bridge, it is a road to opportunity for the thousands of people in Illinois and Missouri," began U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, in opening remarks for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
"This project has already lifted the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of people just because of how it was built. On this particular project, 117 different women and minority-owned companies received 246 contracts worth more than $114 million dollars. That's a big deal," Foxx said, as the audience reacted with loud applause.
Foxx emphasized that a diverse work force can often result in better ideas, citing a small minority-owned company named BRK Electrical Contractors in St. Louis, who teamed up with a larger company. He said that the company was instrumental in figuring out that the electrical system called for in the bridge blueprints could be replaced with a much less costly system. He acknowledged that by working together, they saved the project one million dollars.
"I think it's appropriate that this bridge celebrates a man who knew something about importance of being given a chance to show what he could do. Every generation hence will look at this bridge as an opportunity to show what they could do. We are always better when we built America together," concluded Foxx.
After Foxx's remarks, Master of Ceremonies Dan McLaughlin made an light hearted attempt to keep comments short because of the cold weather. The audience laughed in response and sat patiently through nearly an hour of remarks by dignitaries.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn enthusiastically called the new bridge a road to opportunity. "This is the first new bridge connecting downtown St. Louis and Southwestern Illinois that has been built in more than four decades. It will be a catalyst for business development and job creation for the future."
In his remarks, Governor Quinn noted that the team spirit and diverse participation that went into the planning and construction of the structure was a fitting tribute to Stan Musial and the veterans after whom it is named.
"It's a bridge for jobs. These guys built a bridge. That's a pretty big thing," Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said proudly as he recognized four young apprentices in the Highway Construction Careers Training Program at Southwestern Illinois College who worked on the bridge.
"I think it's also important to remember a man, Andy Gammon, who lost his life building this bridge," stated the Governor while placing his right hand on his heart. The Missouri approach to the new Mississippi River Bridge has been named for Andy Gammon, a carpenter from Park Hills.
Governor Jay Nixon donned a bright red St. Louis Cardinals baseball hat before presenting his tribute to Stan Musial. "The naming of this bridge jointly honors the men and women who have nobly served our nation's military and a man whose long list of accomplishments in his life included service in the United States Navy during World War II," stated the Governor.
"Across the baseball world Stan Musial's feats are legendary. He epitomized consistent excellence as an athlete and a set a standard for sportsmanship that few have ever come close to attaining," Governor Nixon said.
He noted that after Musial hung up his baseball spikes fifty years ago, his decades of work supporting charitable causes and as a world-wide ambassador of good will earned him more admiration and respect and a Presidential medal of freedom.
Following the cutting of the bright blue ribbon featuring the "New Mississippi River Bridge" logo, the crowd enjoyed an historic view of the TANSCOM Color Guard and the Budweiser Clydesdales carrying the Musial family in the ceremonial first crossing, followed by antique cars, military vehicles and members of the armed services and veterans organizations.
The Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge opens officially Sunday, February 9, 2014, at noon, for vehicle traffic. Local and state officials are hopeful that the opening of the new bridge will ease congestion off the Congressman William L. Clay Sr. Bridge/Poplar Street Bridge, especially during St. Louis Cardinals baseball games and St. Louis Rams football games.
Time will tell if the landmark project is successful in moving traffic quickly in and out of the metropolitan region. On this day, families walking on the bridge were thrilled just to enjoy the stunning new entryway into downtown St. Louis.
See related story: New $675 Million Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge Is a Bridge to Jobs
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn raised the ribbon high in a salute to the bridge workers during the ceremonial ribbon cutting for the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge. Governor Quinn was joined by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, Congressman William Lacey Clay, Jr, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, former Illinois Congressman Jerry Costello, Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis and a number of local officials.
Gateway Guide Offers Live Views of St. Louis Traffic
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com) - Does your daily commute catch you by surprise? Is it smooth sailing or are there crashes and other incidents on your path home that will cause you delays? Check out MoDOT's new and improved Gatewayguide.com website for live traffic information and alerts before you leave for work or home.
MoDOT's new GatewayGuide.com website shows nearly 300 live camera views updating every couple of seconds, displays real-time information on incidents and work zones with lane closures and is mobile friendly for your smart phone or other cellular device.
"You can sign up for personalized My STL Traffic alerts specific to the highway you use at the times you need it each day," said MoDOT Assistant District Engineer Tom Blair. "These alerts can be sent to you by text or email to the device you choose and will inform you of crashes or other lane closures. Our goal is to keep traffic moving. The better informed you are of current road conditions, the better choices you can make for a quick, safe trip."
The new website provides a tour of camera views from one end of an interstate to the other. It also shows a live Twitter feed from MoDOT's @StLouisTraffic. Check out the new website at www.gatewayguide.com.
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