Stan the Span Is No Ho-Hum Name

By Gauen, Patrick E | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 21, 2013 | Go to article overview

Stan the Span Is No Ho-Hum Name


Gauen, Patrick E, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Early next year, Interstate 70 motorists will begin crossing the Mississippi River on a new bridge theyre going to call something. Officials in Missouri and Illinois have not yet decided what, which means there is a year or less to avoid the fate of the span it is being built to relieve.

The meaningless Poplar Street Bridge moniker developed as much as anything from a failure to name a structure which, while under construction, became informally known as the bridge at Poplar Street. I doubt very many of you have ever set a tire on St. Louis obscure little Poplar Street, which runs almost under the namesake bridge and cannot be accessed from the deck except perhaps by a terrible accident involving gravity.

You may know that the Poplar Street Bridge does carry a name conferred by St. Louis aldermen: the Bernard F. Dickmann Bridge, for a past mayor. But since the city does not own the thing, Dickmann is no more its official name than the Adlai Stevenson II Bridge, the title it received from the East St. Louis Chamber of Commerce to honor a former Illinois governor and presidential candidate.

The recent death of Cardinals baseball great Stan the Man Musial provided at least a brief resurgence in a bridge-naming debate that I helped generate here almost two years ago.

Lots of people make a good case for what I like to call Stan the Span, given his long run of enormous popularity as a paragon of good sportsmanship, compassion and clean living. (The Missouri Senate has given a first-round endorsement to the Musial name; it needs approval there and in the House and Illinois Legislature.)

Only five of the 10 bridges already here are named for people, and only two of those people ever lived here. That favors Stan, I think, who spent his whole career and retirement in St. Louis.

Lets take a quick inventory, north to south.

The Clark Bridge, at Alton, was built in 1928 and replaced in 1994 with a graceful cable-stayed design being replicated in larger scale by the nameless new one. Altons is named for the great explorer William Clark, who remains in St. Louis, in Bellefontaine Cemetery.

The New Chain of Rocks Bridge has an uninspired name for a plain flat deck that has carried Interstate 270 since 1966. …

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