ST. LOUIS — Missouri senators John Lamping and Eric Schmitt filed legislation with the state Senate this week to get a new bridge between Missouri and Illinois named after baseball legend Stan Musial.
The bill, officially introduced to the floor of the Missouri Senate on Tuesday as Senate Bill No. 192, would have the new bridge connecting Interstate 70 between Missouri and Illinois over the Mississippi River named the Stan Musial Memorial Bridge.
The general assemblies in both Missouri and Illinois have to agree on the name. But Lamping, the vice-chair of the Transportation Committee in Missouri, said he believes there will be no problem getting the bill passed in Missouri and is hopeful that it will ultimately pass in Illinois as well.
“He epitomizes so much of what is St. Louis and what is the Midwest,” Lamping said. “Quiet, dignity and grace, not seeking out the spotlight, a very humble, modest man. This is the kind of person and personality that you have monuments for. The impact he had on our community, it’s easy to see he is deserving of this honor.
“Missouri will pass the law that will name the bridge the Stan Musial Bridge and the first response from the people I’ve spoken with is that Illinois would concur.”
Lamping said that a proposed name of Cards-Cubs Bridge from the Missouri side and Cubs-Cards Bridge from the Illinois side was brought to the table in 2011 but never materialized. Musial also came up during discussion then.
Musial spent his entire 22-year career with the Cardinals, winning three MVP Awards and finishing with the fourth-most hits in baseball history. He also took a season off in the middle of his career to fight for the Navy in World War II.
“Over the weekend when Stan passed away it was just an easy idea to have and it was amazing because I think the whole city kind of woke up the last few days with the same idea,” Lamping said. “Yesterday we filed the legislation on the Missouri side, it will probably take five or six weeks before it becomes law.
“I have already been in communication with a gentleman from Alton, Ill., that chairs the Transportation Committee in the Illinois house and he’s very open to the idea. It’s just logical. It’s such an easy thing to do and I think it’s going to get done.”
The bill will be referred to the Transportation Committee on Thursday in the Missouri Senate and could be heard and voted on by that group as early as Jan. 30. It would then come back to the Senate floor where it will be debated and voted.
The Senate could vote on the bill within the next month and the House would then do the same. If both agree, the bill would be sent to the desk of Gov. Jay Nixon for him to sign and put into law.
“Once we’ve done that here we’ll wait to see that Illinois does the same thing,” Lamping said. “At the end of the day, we have to have the same name, I spoke to their Transportation Committee chair and he’s a Cardinals fan and obviously recognizes the unusual nature of who Stan Musial was and what he meant to so many people and what his personality stands for.
Lamping said at the federal level U.S. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill and U.S. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin have committed to filing federal legislation and support, “although it really is the General Assembly that actually has the authority to name the bridge.”
KMOX Radio in St. Louis has started an online petition to help persaude lawmakers to pass the bill. Lamping said the petition could work to help convince lawmakers in Illinois about the impact Musial and his life had on the community and how deserving he is of the honor.
“It’s going to happen,” Lamping said. “I think it’s going to happen all the way through but the only thing I can control is what happens here in Missouri, I think that will happen and I’m optimistic that the Illinois General Assembly will follow suit and that’s all that is required, that the two states agree.”