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November 17, 2007

Blagojevich Administration, legislative and local leaders dedicate McKinley Bridge
Project restores important connection between Illinois and Missouri across the Mississippi River

VENICE – On behalf of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Secretary Milton R. Sees today joined U.S. Congressman Jerry Costello, State Representative Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville) and other elected and community leaders to dedicate the McKinley Bridge as the revitalization project nears completion.  The $52 million project, funded with state and federal dollars, restores a vital connection across the Mississippi River for local commuters for the first time in six years.
“Reopening the McKinley Bridge will significantly help ease congestion and improve the quality of life for area residents. But above all the reconstruction of this bridge ensures the safety of drivers who use it every day,” said Gov. Blagojevich. 
The McKinley Bridge will officially reopen in December.  It formerly operated as a toll bridge, but will now offer motorists a toll-free passageway across the Mississippi River.  Approximately 9,800 vehicles traveled the McKinley Bridge every day, before it was closed to traffic in 2001 and the reopening will make interstate travel safe and more convenient for thousands for drivers.
“I want to thank Gov. Blagojevich and everyone who worked so hard to complete this project,” said IDOT Secretary Milton R. Sees.  “The reopening of the McKinley Bridge will mean a safe and efficient way for motorists in this area to get across the Mississippi River.  We are happy to dedicate this bridge today, and look forward to seeing traffic crossing it, once again.”
The bridge was taken out of service on October 30, 2001, due to structural concerns.  Construction work on the current project began in April 2005.  During the course of the project, crews have made structural repairs on the steel of the three main truss spans of the McKinley Bridge, and the trusses have been painted.  The painting was added to the project to extend the life of the steel, and to minimize future lane restrictions.
During the course of this project, the cantilever roadway structures on the main truss spans of the bridge were removed and reconstructed.  Also, the Illinois approach and the Missouri approach to the bridge were removed and reconstructed.  New roadway and navigational lighting have been installed.
Work on this project included the construction of a new composite grid deck, which will be used for bicycles on the downstream side of the bridge and maintenance vehicles on the opposite side.  The Great Rivers Greenway District and the Metro East Parks and Recreation District contributed $4.25 million for the 12’ wide bike path.
“The McKinley Bridge reopening is good news for our region,” said U.S. Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL, 12th District.) “I was pleased to earmark funds in the last two federal highway bills to help with this project, which was paid for with 80% federal funding. Given the tragic event in Minneapolis this summer and our ongoing needs for more road capacity locally, this is an important investment in our transportation infrastructure. I look forward to the bridge opening to the public.”
“The McKinley Bridge is an important transportation structure to our region. Its reopening will provide some relief to traffic congestion while we continue to push for the construction of the new Mississippi River Bridge,” said State Rep. Hoffman. “It will also help revitalize the tri-city area by increasing traffic flow, which will bring opportunities for economic development.”
“This is the moment that the City of Venice and our region have long awaited,” said Venice Mayor Avery Ware.  “It is a pleasant delight for the prospect of new residential and commercial development, here.”
The McKinley Bridge originally opened on November 10, 1910.  The bridge is named after its builder, William Brown McKinley, a railroad magnate and head of the Illinois Terminal Railroad.  The bridge was originally constructed at a cost of $4 million, and when it was expanded from two lanes to four, became a part of the historic Route 66 Highway System in the 1930’s.  The bridge carried both railroad and vehicular traffic across the Mississippi River until 1978, when the railroad line over the span was closed.


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