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ST. LOUIS, MO, (SWI-News.com), February 9, 2014 - Illinois Governor Pat Quinn enthusiastically called the new $695 million cable-stayed Stan Musial Veterans Memorial 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 during the ribbon cutting ceremony, Saturday, February 8, 2014, Illinois Governor Pat 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," Governor 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.
"It's always fun to cut the ribbon. We are grateful to the men and women who built this graceful, magnificent structure," he continued. "But, 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.
Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis (representing 13th District), who introduced bipartisan legislation, H.R. 2383, naming the new I-70 bridge over the Missisippi River the "Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge", was thrilled to be on hand for the ceremony.
"So many people, including former Congressman Jerry Costello and Congressman John Shimcus and the Missouri delegation, put so much effort over the years working tirelessly to make this a reality," said Davis in a conversation prior to the ceremony.
He emphasized that building the bridge would provide a great opportunity to continue building in areas like Collinsville and Edwardsville, Glen Carbon and Maryville. "It will make it easier for people to get in and out of the St. Louis metro region. Hopefully it will relieve some of that traffic for Cardinals and Rams games also," Davis smiled.
"I'm a big supporter of infrastructure funding. We ought to be able to pay down our debt and reduce the deficit. But we need to reprioritize our spending in Washington to do things like build bridges and do other infrastructure projects which as the Metro East knows creates real jobs," stated the Congressman.
Davis said that a graduate program on the east side taught students how to get involved in the construction trade and they worked on building this bridge. "These are students who are going to be able to turn this experience into a career. I'm so excited for them," he said pointing to the group wearing bright orange coats among the crowd in front of the stage.
Gary Eversmann, instructor for Highway Construction Careers Training Program at Southwestern Illinois College, said there was seven students working on the project through an agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation. "We trained apprentices through the campus located in East St. Louis," he stated proudly with a big smile.
In remarks during the ceremony, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin spoke about the economic potential of the bridge for both Illinois and Missouri.
"At the foot of this bridge is the convergence of five Class-1 railroads, three interstate highways, next to the busiest economic artery in the Midwest, the Mississippi River, and not far from three great airports," Durbin said. "This is not just a bridge to Missouri and a bridge to Illinois, this is a bridge to jobs. This is a bridge to opportunity."
The audience, which included many bridge workers, responded with loud applause and big smiles and nods of agreement. It was bitterly cold, but on this day, the excitement of being on the new bridge was more than enough to bring everyone together for the celebration of a job well done.
See related story: I-70 Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge Debuts to Public
Illinois Residents Encouraged to Prepare for Earthquakes during February
CHICAGO, IL, (SWI-News.com), February 2, 2014 - During the winter of 1811-12, some of the largest earthquakes ever recorded in North America rocked the Central U.S., including parts of southern Illinois.
The series of earthquakes were each estimated to be around magnitude 8.0, strong enough to ring church bells 1,000 miles away in Boston. While the affected area was largely rural at the time, a similar earthquake today would cause widespread devastation throughout the region.
Recognizing this seismic risk, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) today announced it will promote earthquake preparedness throughout February as part of its 2014 preparedness campaign.
"While it comes as a surprise to many people, Illinois has a very real risk for a major earthquake," said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. "We're working to increase awareness of the earthquake potential in Illinois, as well as how people can protect themselves and reduce damage to their homes."
Monken said people need to remember to "Drop, Cover and Hold On" when they feel the ground shaking. The phrase prompts people to "Drop" down to the floor, take "Cover" under a sturdy desk, table or other furniture, and "Hold On" to the furniture item and be prepared to move with it until the shaking ends.
IEMA has developed interactive tools that identify earthquake hazards in homes and schools and provide information on how to reduce these risks. The earthquake home and school hazard hunts are available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.
The website also contains earthquake preparedness tips and information about the New Madrid and Wabash Valley seismic zones that impact Illinois.
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