Q. I miss not being able to use the bicycle path that takes you across Green Mount Road to Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville. When can we expect that new bridge to be finished? And, when (if ever) will they extend the trail from the college to the Shiloh-Scott station?
-- Dave Klingensmith
A. Only Mother Nature knows the answer to your first question, but she has been spending so much time in the shower lately that she hasn't been available for comment.
"All we're willing to say is mid-summer," said Bill Grogan, managing director of the St. Clair County Transit District. "And the reason for that is it depends on the rain.
"They're actually putting the wood planks on the decking now, but the paving depends on Mother Nature and her willingness to dry out. So, pray for no rain for a little while. Then it can start raining again to make the grass grow."
Your second question produced a couple of news tidbits that should have both bikers and pedestrians excited.
First, plans apparently are moving quickly to build a bridge over 161 between the college and Green Mount Commons.
A couple of years ago, the Illinois Department of Transportation counted how many pedestrians were going from the college's MetroLink station to the shopping center. Grogan said they were astonished to find that as many as 400 people a day were dashing across that wide, busy stretch of road.
"That opened a lot of eyes," Grogan said. "So, IDOT agreed to fund construction of a bridge over 161 by the YMCA."
Not only that, but funds also are being provided for traffic signals with pedestrian controls, he said. Grogan says he thinks the design plans are already in IDOT's bridge office in Springfield and that once they're released, bidding will start.
"That action may start this year, although the completion wouldn't be until next year probably."
The bridge likely will be the first step in extending the trail to the Shiloh-Scott MetroLink Station and, probably, the historic Englemann family farm near Shiloh. Here again Grogan offered some interesting news: To get cyclists across Illinois 158, they'll probably have to tunnel underneath just like the tunnels on the Madison County trail system.
"Because it's split with two northbound and two southbound lanes, it's a pretty big deal," Grogan said. "We looked at going north to the traffic signal, but that doesn't work out very well, so it looks like we might wind up going under the thing."
But here the crystal ball is much hazier.
"I would expect it would be in less than five years but not next year," he said. "But there is a prospect for a connection through O'Fallon and Troy ultimately to the trail system in Madison County. So we're excited about trying to get things connected up here, but we've got to take it one step at a time."
Q. What has happened to George Noory and his "Coast to Coast AM" show? It has disappeared from KTRS (550-AM).
-- B.W., of Belleville, T.N., of O'Fallon, et al.
A. To help local listeners remember, Noory may want to change the name of the show here to "Coast to Coast FM."
In March, KTRS announced that it was losing the wildly popular show about UFOs, ghosts and other things that go bump in the night now heard on more than 500 stations around North America. Last week it moved to NewsTalk KFTK-FM (97.1), where you can hear it in its usual overnight time slot -- midnight to 4 a.m.
It's been a long, strange trip for Noory, who, as a child, asked a friend to build model rockets so he could play Walter Cronkite and broadcast the launches. Originally a pre-dental major, the 1972 University of Detroit grad switched disciplines and, at 28, became the nation's youngest major market TV news director at KMSP in Minneapolis.
But after coming to St. Louis, Noory reinvented himself for the radio, calling himself the Nighthawk on a late-night show on KTRS. When Art Bell tired of doing alien abductions and remote viewing full time, Noory slid into the post in the fall of 2002.
Now, he'll go up against KMOX's "Overnight America" on KFTK as the two talk stations battle it out to see which will draw more listeners: the normal or the paranormal.
In his youth, what 20th century president went by the name Tommy?
Answer to Thursday's trivia: On May 19, 1536, Anne Boleyn became the first of two of King Henry VIII's wives to be lose her head at the Tower of London. More than 400 years later, Josef Jakobs became the last person to be executed on the Tower of London grounds. The German spy had been captured trying to parachute into England on Jan. 31, 1941. After a court martial on Aug. 4-5, a firing squad executed him 10 days later while he sat in a brown Windsor chair because of a broken ankle.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-2465.