by Sam Levin
Elected officials in Missouri don't always get along and sometimes aren't great at compromise -- but when it comes to the late, great Stan Musial, everyone can agree, right? As we've reported, the debate about what to name the Mississippi River bridge heated up in the aftermath of the passing of the legendary Cardinal. While there was a lot of support for the Stan Musial Memorial Bridge, an alternative proposal soon emerged: The Andy Gammon Memorial Bridge, after a worker who died tragically on the project.
Now State Senator Eric Schmitt has a solution he says he hopes everyone can agree on: The Stan Musial Memorial Bridge and the Andy Gammon Memorial Highway. Will there be enough support?
"This seemed to be a good way of marrying both ideas," the Republican state senator tells Daily RFT.
He proposed the idea through Senate Bill 176, which is moving quickly through the legislative process. It passed out of the Senate last week and Schmitt says he is hopeful that it will be expedited in the House and can move forward from there.
"I'm a native St. Louisan and I'm a huge Cardinals fan," he says. "After his passing, we thought what would be a good way of honoring him?... A bridge connects people, unites people -- it made a lot of sense."
He was one of many Missouri elected officials to support the Stan Musial Memorial Bridge -- but the family of Gammon, the worker who fell from the project and died, began lobbying lawmakers to consider honoring their loved one who gave his life for the bridge.
"This guy had a young family," Schmitt says, recalling moving testimony from a loved one. "We all got together and said, 'What can we do?' Naming a portion of highway in Missouri after him...[is] a good way of paying homage to him."
The proposal that passed out of the Senate says that the Interstate 70 bridge that connects Illinois and Missouri will be named after Stan Musial and a portion of I-70 would also be named the "Andy Gammon Memorial Highway."
Continue for more details on the proposal.
The bill calls for appropriate signs on the bridge honoring Musial -- which would be paid for by private donations. The measure would ultimately require buy-in from Illinois legislators.
The Andy Gammon Memorial Highway, as proposed would run from "mile marker 248" to the Illinois border.
This bill is moving forward as St. Clair County politicians across the river have voted to name it the Veterans Bridge -- yet a third suggestion over the last two months.
Schmitt says he hopes that his bill garners enough support so lawmakers can designate the names by August.
He adds, "Illinois legislators are very receptive."
Here's the full bill.