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Monday, July 14, 2008

Old Chain of Rocks Bridge's financial struggle

Funding cutbacks for the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge have Madison Mayor John Hamm concerned, the Granite City Press-Record reports. Trailnet officials recently had told the mayor that it didn't have enough money to pay the Madison Police Department to open and close the bridge. He said it had threatened to close the bridge except on special occasions.

On June 23, Trailnet curtailed the bridge's hours: "
Due to funding limitations, the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge will be open between 9 a.m. and dusk until further notice. When the bridge is closed, please use the McKinley Bridge to cross the Mississippi River."

Last week, Trailnet Executive Director Ann Mack addressed the Madison City Council about the financial concerns. Here's an excerpt from the Press-Record story:
In an interview later, she that the shortfall occurred after funding from Great Rivers Greenway, a publicly funded park district which services St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County, dried up.

Mack said Trailnet receives less than 12 percent of its funding from public sources and that the organization has received money from federal earmarks in the past.
Mack said Trailnet would be talking with local shareholders about the importance of keeping the bridge open within four to six weeks.

Hamm said it's important the bridge stay open because grants that the city received to improve the Illinois parking lot were tied to the bridge staying open.

The city of Madison owns the bridge, and Trailnet leases the bridge from the city. The bridge was constructed in 1929 and once carried Route 66 across the Mississippi River. Madison had operated the bridge as a toll bridge from 1939 to 1968, when the nearby Interstate 270 bridge took away too much traffic for the bridge to remain profitable.

Trailnet has had other problems with the bridge in recent years, most notably with car break-ins at the Missouri parking lot. Because of that, the Missouri parking lot now is open only for special events. Otherwise, people who drive cars to the bridge have to park either at North Riverfront Park, about 1.4 miles south of the bridge, or at the Illinois parking lot on Chouteau Island. Much of the Riverfront Trail on the Missouri side of the river remains closed because of cleanup from the recent flooding.

The Missouri Bicycle Federation also has reported on this issue, also citing the Press-Record story.

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Roger 1 comments links to this post 12:31 PM

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Hi Roger, wondering what the best way to contact you is?
 
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