The New Mississippi River Bridge is a proposed bridge over the Mississippi River, connecting St. Clair County, Illinois to the city of St. Louis, Missouri. The Missouri State Legislature voted on August 28, 2005 to name the bridge the Ronald Wilson Reagan Memorial Bridge. The structure will relieve traffic on nearby bridges, most importantly the Poplar Street Bridge, which carries I-55, I-64, and I-70.
The bridge project is currently coming to the end of the planning phase, with construction expected to start by 2010 to achieve completion by 2015. Construction is expected to take 5 years. There was substantial controversy over funding the completion of the bridge, with Missouri transportation officials favoring a $2 toll while Illinois officials and at least one St. Louis congressman demanded a toll-free crossing; however, in a deal signed February 28, 2008, Missouri governor Matt Blunt and Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, the bridge will not be tolled. This effectively puts to rest an attempt by Missouri officials to privatize the bridge, selling the rights to build, operate and maintain it up to 99 years, with tolls recouping the bridge's costs. The bridge is projected to cost $640 million, down from the original estimate of $1.6 billion. Funding will be provided by Illinois, federal allocations, and Missouri, in descending order.
The bridge is of a cable-stayed design and has a proposed main span of 1500 feet (457 meters). It will carry four mainline traffic lanes (down from the originally planned eight), with room to add a lane in each direction, providing for expansion and reconfigurability. It will also be designed so that a companion bridge could be built beside it.
According to current plans, Interstate 70 would be re-routed over the new bridge. It will meet the existing I-70 at Cass Avenue and connect with the existing Interstate 55/Interstate 64/I-70 in East St. Louis. The remaining stretch of I-70 through downtown St. Louis will be redesignated Interstate 44.