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‘Musial Bridge’ proposal draws just one comment

No one opposed a bill that would name the new Mississippi River bridge at St. Louis in honor of Stan Musial, during a state Senate hearing Wednesday — although one man thinks his friend’s name should be on the bridge.

As an “inspiration for how we can all strive to be better,” Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, told the Senate’s Transportation Committee, and because “bridges unite people (and) bring people together, I think this is a fitting tribute to Stan Musial, who did that his entire life.”

Southeast Missouri resident Travis Barnes, Bonne Terre, was the only person to comment on the bill.

“I grew up with a man named Andy Gammon,” Barnes told the committee. “On March 28 (2012), he got killed on the bridge.

“He was 35 years-old and left behind a 5 year-old daughter and an 8 year-old son. There were over 3,000 people at his funeral (and) we raised over $30,000 for him.

“He was the best carpenter that ever worked on the bridge there — without your guys’ help, I can’t get his name on that bridge.”

Gammon was on a piece of construction equipment called an “aerial man lift” when it fell into the river from a barge.

His body was found the next day.

Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue — who sponsored one of two bills proposing to rename the new bridge for Musial — told Barnes he was “an extraordinary advocate for your friend.”

Barnes has been talking with Lamping’s staff, and Lamping told Barnes: “We’re committed to trying to find a way to memorialize (Gammon) on that bridge, as well.

“We’ll make sure that people are aware of the sacrifice he made.”

St. Louis County Sens. Schmitt and Lamping have agreed to merge their two bills proposing Musial’s name for the bridge into one measure for legislative debate.

Musial, 92, died Jan. 19.

“I think, in his passing,” Schmitt added, “everybody’s gotten to have what they know about Stan ‘The Man’ Musial to be re-enforced — his kindness off the field. How he dealt with people, no matter if it was the president of the United States, an usher, a bat boy or someone he’d never met before.

“He treated everybody the same and, I think, possessed the rarest of commodities of someone who had reached his stature and standard of excellence — humility.”

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