Travel & Tourism
Governor Quinn Opens Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge Over Mississippi River PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Grant Klinzman   
Monday, 10 February 2014 11:15

Monumental Bridge Will Improve Safety and Reduce Traffic Congestion

EAST ST. LOUIS – Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and a number of local officials to open the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge. The monumental $695 million bridge provides a better and safer way for millions of motorists to cross the Mississippi River between Illinois and Missouri. Today's event is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to create jobs and build a 21st century infrastructure that will drive Illinois’ economy forward.

“The team spirit and diverse participation that went into the planning and construction of this magnificent structure is a fitting tribute to Stan Musial and the veterans after whom it is named,” Governor Quinn said. “This is the first new bridge connecting downtown St. Louis and southwestern Illinois that has been built in more than four decades, and it will be a catalyst for business development and job creation for the future.”

“This is more than a bridge – it is a road to opportunity for the thousands of people in Illinois and Missouri who have long deserved a faster and safer way to get to work and home again,” Transportation Secretary Foxx said. “Last week, President Obama said that ‘first-class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure,’ and there is no bigger example than this first-class bridge of how transportation investments can help businesses and residents alike.”

“The new bridge will mean more jobs and more economic opportunity on both sides of the Mississippi,” Senator Durbin said. “I was proud to support federal funding for the bridge in Washington and proud to join Senator McCaskill in introducing legislation to name the bridge after both our brave veterans and one of my earliest childhood heroes, Stan ‘The Man’ Musial. I look forward to the economic boost this bridge will bring to both Illinois and Missouri.”

“One-hundred and forty years after the Eads Bridge first linked Missouri and Illinois, the I-70 Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge is the latest span to bring commerce and travelers across the Mississippi River at this nexus of our country,” Governor Nixon said. “This is a milestone for trade and transportation that will help this region, and our two states, continue to grow.”

The Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge is one mile north of the Martin Luther King Bridge. It has two traffic lanes in each direction with room to expand to three lanes, and carries Interstate 70 traffic between Illinois and Missouri, connecting I-70 at the I-55/I-64/I-70 interchange on the Illinois side to I-70 near Cass Avenue in Missouri. Construction began in the summer of 2009. The project, a joint effort by the Illinois and Missouri departments of transportation, has created or supported more than 9,000 jobs.

Illinois contributed $347 million toward the bridge construction, with Missouri contributing $41 million and the federal government contributing $307 million. Part of Illinois' commitment came from Governor Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program.

“We are excited to open the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge to traffic,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider said. “Thanks to the hard work of our diverse group of trade workers, contractors and consulting engineers who made this project happen, motorists on both sides of the river will have a safer, less congested and faster commute. We are proud of the partnership with the Missouri Department of Transportation and we sincerely appreciate Governor Pat Quinn’s unwavering support for this important project as part of our vision to transform Transportation for Tomorrow.”

A diverse group of trade workers, contractors, and engineers have worked on the project since it began in 2009. The 24 percent minority workforce participation on the Illinois-funded part of the project is nearly 10 percent higher than the goal set by the Federal Highway Administration and sets a record for construction projects in the Metro East area.

The new bridge and its carefully planned alignment will provide economic benefits to the Metro East area of Illinois. For example, a new interchange was constructed at the relocated Illinois Route 3 that will open the National Stockyards area for redevelopment.

The work in Illinois required the largest archaeological dig in the country from 2009-12. More than 6,000 archaeological features were investigated, and in 2011 the Federal Highway Administration Environmental Excellence Award was presented to the Illinois Department of Transportation for their efforts relating to archaeology in the area. The discoveries made during the project greatly enhanced the knowledge of the civilization that flourished at nearby Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Illinois' only World Heritage Site. The new bridge will make it easier for motorists on the Missouri side of the river to visit Cahokia Mounds.

The existing Poplar Street Bridge carried combined traffic for Interstates 55, 64 and 70 and averages 120,000 vehicles daily. By 2030, the Poplar Street Bridge would have carried more than 150,000 vehicles daily if the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge had not been built. The new I-70 bridge and the Poplar Street Bridge, which will continue to carry I-55/64 traffic, will mean much less congestion and fewer accidents and will greatly enhance traffic flow between Illinois and Missouri.

The Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge project is part of Governor Quinn’s $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! program, which will support more than 439,000 jobs over six years. Illinois Jobs Now! is the largest capital construction program in Illinois history, and is one of the largest capital construction programs in the nation.

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2013 River to River Classic Car Cruise Review & Survey PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Dave Darby   
Monday, 10 February 2014 10:46
Hello Cruisers!
First off, we’d like to thank all of you for joining us on the third annual Route 6 River to River Cruise across Iowa. With your participation, we helped raise awareness of the original Highway 6, along with the towns and small businesses along the route. We made a tremendous positive economic impact in the communities we visited. This year’s cruise was by far the biggest yet, with a total participation of over 200 cars! This was triple what we had in 2012.
With this growth, of course came some growing pains, which, along with a record three detours, one unprepared restaurant (someone told them we weren’t coming) and some signage that was late getting installed, caused a few difficulties with staying on route. We are a nonprofit, volunteer group, who are learning as we go.
We did learn from these difficulties, and we will be making a few changes for our fourth River to River cruise, which will be October 10-12, 2014.

There will be better signage, and in addition, there will be maps, turn by turn directions, and scheduled stops, where we can catch back up, and regroup.)

We are presently developing the itinerary for the next cruise, and we would like to invite you to contribute your input.

We want to make sure no one gets lost, that the pace is comfortable, and that you can take in as many of the attractions as possible. We will have volunteers to help manage and guide traffic. This much we have established. We will once again start in Davenport, with a lunch stop in Coralville at Iowa River Power Restaurant in Coralville.
Overnights will include Grinnell, where the Chamber and the Vintage Car Club, along with the Transportation Museum are working together on something big, and in Council Bluffs where the city will be holding a Historic Route 6 Street Fest. All three of the overnight communities, and many others are preparing something special just for us. They saw our numbers, they love your cars, they share our enthusiasm, and they are rolling out their welcome mats.

Speaking of special, we used to have a tradition in Davenport called “Cruising the One ways”.

On the Thursday night (October 9th) preceding the cruise, we will have hundreds of cool rides cruising those one ways, and the downtown area restaurants will have special deals for the cruisers.  Afterwards, the good folks from Dahl Ford have extended an invitation to an Open House at their fabulous “Old Cars Home”. The Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau will helping us out once again, and we will have lodging lined up for our out of town guests.

You can pre-register for the 2014 Classic car Cruise here:

/https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Pkq4QRSep5h5fRWqUv_6OqbfCXcxxE1sBUxMTDaK4jw/viewform

That said, whether or not you choose to join us again in 2014, we would appreciate if you could spare a few moments to fill out this brief survey (linked below). Also, if you have any other questions, comments, or suggestions, please feel free to share them with us.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1kWtH4gU077FyfBxgtzqAOSST75C5EpElsWx_G7T-T9U/viewform

Once again, we thank you very much for joining us, and for helping make this third River to River Cruise such a memorable one. Without you, it wouldn't have been possible.

 
DES MOINES AIRPORT AUTHORITY BOARD SHOULD PUT SAFETY FIRST PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Brian Jennings   
Monday, 03 February 2014 13:17

DES MOINES – Today, AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement regarding the Des Moines Airport Authority’s decision to schedule a Board vote for tomorrow on the pending contract with Pro-Tec Fire Services:

“The Des Moines Airport Authority Board is showing a callous disregard for the safety of airport passengers by plowing ahead with this risky, unsafe outsourcing plan. As we detailed in our previous news release, Pro-Tec Fire Services has a troubled history and the Airport Authority’s Request for Proposal included staffing requirements that are insufficient to meet OSHA requirements and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) staffing and interior firefighting safety standards. The staffing level is so minimal that in a crash, Pro-Tec employees will only be able to focus on putting the fire out—not assisting injured passengers.

“At a January 29th meeting with Airport Authority managers some current Airport Firefighters/Medics made a sensible proposal to have the Airport Authority hire the current firefighters/medics as Airport Authority employees. The Airport’s Assistant Executive Director and General Manager, Kevin Foley, stated that the airport is ‘a business and is making a business decision.’ He further claimed that the airport does not have to follow OSHA and NFPA standards.

“The Airport Authority is not a business. It is a public entity with board members nominated by the Mayor of Des Moines and appointed by the Des Moines City Council. Its priority should be safety, period.”

“We ask all members of the public who support a safe airport to show their opposition to this dangerous proposed contract with Pro-Tec. We encourage them to attend the Authority Board meeting on Tuesday at 9 am in the second floor boardroom at the airport terminal.”

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Should Travelers Confronted by Young Beggars Give Them Money? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Richard Martin   
Thursday, 30 January 2014 15:01
Child Advocate from Pakistan says, ‘No!’

Anyone who’s taken a Caribbean cruise or visited one of the world’s less affluent countries has been approached – sometimes even mobbed – by children begging for money. Many are dirty and obviously hungry. Some are disabled and/or disfigured.

It’s hard to resist dropping a few coins into their small hands, but Pakistan native and child advocate Zulfiqar Rashid says we must.

“Crime rings around the world traffic in children for use as beggars, and they will starve or maim the children to elicit more sympathy – and money,” says Rashid, who writes about a particularly cruel form of this in “The Rat-boys of Karalabad,” (www.zulfiqarrashid.com). The title refers to children in Indo Asian countries whose heads are tightly bound when they’re very young resulting in stunted brains and terrible disfigurement. The children are then put to work as beggars.

“When you give money to child beggars, it may well help fund the perpetuation of this industry – more kidnappings, more children starved and maimed,” says Rashid. “Even if the children are not working for mafia types, giving them money or gifts gives them incentive to stay on the streets instead of going to school, which is the only way out of poverty.”

Instead, consider helping those children with a gift that can truly save their lives through one of these charities. Each has a four-star rating – the highest possible – from Charity Navigator, a non-profit that provides objective evaluations of charities:

• Save the Children helps children and their families help themselves by fighting poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease in the United States and around the world on a daily basis. It also responds to disasters, providing food, medical care and education, and staying in ravaged communities to help rebuild. This charity spent more than 91 percent of its revenues on its programs and services in 2011. (Charity Navigator finds most charities spend 65 to 75 percent on the programs they exist to provide.)

• Kids Around the World provides safe play equipment for children in areas where, because of war, natural disasters and poverty, it’s hard to be a kid. The faith-based charity also trains and equips churches and Sunday school teachers around the world to visually share the Bible with the children in their communities. More than 90 percent of its budget went to its programs and services in 2011.

• Invisible Children, Inc. rescues and rehabilitates children who have been kidnapped and used as soldiers or sex slaves for the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony, in Central Africa. By Invisible Children’s count, more than 30,000 children have been abducted. Many are forced to commit brutal atrocities, including killing their parents with machetes. Invisible Children says it “exists to bring a permanent end to LRA atrocities.” In the 2011-12 fiscal year, it spent more than 81 percent of its budget on programs and services.

• Feed My Starving Children provides MannaPack meal formulas, developed by food scientists to reverse and prevent malnutrition, to missions and humanitarian organizations in more than 55 countries. The food is then distributed to orphanages, schools, clinics and feeding programs. In 2012-13, the faith-based charity delivered 163 million meals with the help of more than 657,000 volunteers. Countries served include Haiti, Nicaragua, the Philippines and North Korea. More than 87 percent of revenues go toward programs and services.

About Zulfiqar Rashid

Zulfiqar Rashid was born in Pakistan and now resides in southern California. As a regular contributor to various newspapers, Rashid has written extensively, recounting his travels to Pakistan, and about major figures in the Pakistani artistic and cultural scene.  Rashid is also an accomplished artist and calligrapher, whose art has been featured in the San Diego Union Tribune.  His works have been exhibited at galleries in San Diego, Del Mar, and La Jolla, as well as the San Diego Art Institute and the San Diego Port Authority’s “I Madonnari” festival.

 
St. Louis To Mark Its 250th Anniversary With 'Biggest Birthday Bash' PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Dana Andrews   
Friday, 24 January 2014 10:49

ST. LOUIS -- January 23, 2014 -- A 250th birthday doesn’t come around every day but when it does, you want it to be a humdinger! And, in true St. Louis-style hospitality tradition, many of the major, blow-out-the-candles birthday events will be free to all.

Here are the key events planned thus far (be sure to check out St. Louis' birthday website often as
St. Louis area attractions continue to add special 250-themed activities to the calendar):

February 14-16: Birthday Bash Weekend. Was STL founded on Valentine’s Day or on the day after? Historians can’t agree so the city is making a weekend of it. National musical acts, a 25-foot-high flaming heart sculpture titled “Burnin’ Love,” luminary décor, light shows illuminating the park and spectacular fireworks displays will highlight this blow-out event in Forest Park.   

Re-enactors will bring St. Louis' founding to life along the Mississippi riverfront on Saturday, Feb. 15. They will also trace the broader influence that various cultures played in shaping St. Louis--the Osage, the Spanish and the French, including those from New Orleans and Quebec.

To commemorate St. Louis’ French ties, French heritage awareness group Les Amis will place street signs with the original French names on streets in downtown St. Louis.

February 14: Missouri History Museum Exhibit. A major, free exhibition commemorating the city's 250th anniversary will open at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. Titled “250/250: 50 People; 50 Moments; 50 Places; 50 Images; 50 Objects,” the exhibit will showcase the richness, diversity and complexity of the city’s long history while telling stories of murderers and musicians, prostitutes and poets, composers and clowns.

Displays will feature objects older than 250 years as well as some we still use today. Visitors can listen to first-hand accounts of both the big and small moments that have made St. Louis history and see images of St. Louisans at work and play throughout 250 years.

During opening weekend visitors can participate in interactive exhibits and activities, enjoy live musical performances and sample prime edibles from local food vendors.

July 4-6:  Fair Saint Louis. Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase officially transformed St. Louis from French to American, so it’s fitting to turn the Fourth of July 2014 into a birthday party for St. Louis and the entire nation. Fair Saint Louis, St. Louis’ long-time Fourth of July celebration, moves to Forest Park this year for an entirely new celebration experience. Nationally known music acts, a huge parade with birthday-themed floats, air shows and nightly fireworks ensure this joint celebration of St. Louis’ and our country’s births will be an event to remember.

December 31: Kickoff of St. Louis' future. The birthday year culminates with fireworks, music and more during a fun-filled First Night that kicks off the start of St. Louis’ next 250 years.

For more information about St. Louis’ Biggest Birthday Bash, visit stl250.

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