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People Ex Rel. Hoagland v. Streeper

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 20, 1957

THE PEOPLE EX REL. KARL K. HOAGLAND ET AL., PETITIONERS,

v.

I.H. STREEPER III, JUDGE, RESPONDENT.



ORIGINAL PETITION for mandamus.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE DAVIS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied November 19, 1957.

This is an original petition for a writ of mandamus against the respondent, as judge of the city court of Alton, to compel him to expunge orders entered in an action brought in that court by the city of Alton against the county of St. Charles in the State of Missouri, the county court of St. Charles County, and the judges of the county court, to enjoin the conveyance of the portion of the Clark Bridge within the city of Alton, and to appoint a receiver. The State of Missouri and the People of the State of Illinois, ex rel. Karl K. Hoagland, petitioners, were not parties to the action in the city court of Alton, but here claim to have interests affected by the decree. Because serious questions of public importance appeared to be involved, we granted leave to file this original petition.

The Clark Bridge, a part of a highway facility constructed in 1928 between Alton, Illinois, and St. Louis, Missouri, and here in controversy, was constructed over the Mississippi River, and the Lewis Bridge over the Missouri River. These bridges were connected by a three-mile private roadway through St. Charles County, Missouri, and the total facility affords the most direct route between Alton and St. Louis, and is a link in U.S. Route 67, serving through traffic between northwestern Illinois and the southwestern States. The bridges and connecting highway were constructed in 1928 by private parties pursuant to Federal authorization and local franchises. Pub. L. 274, H.R. 10090, 69th Cong., 1st Sess.; Pub. L. 679, H.R. 16778, 69th Cong., 2nd Sess.; Ordinance 1601, City of Alton, Feb. 9, 1927.

Due to financial difficulties of the promoters and their successors, the entire private facility was sold to the county of St. Charles, Missouri, in 1936. It was thereafter managed by the county court of St. Charles County, a political unit in all material ways comparable to an Illinois county board of supervisors. In the same year the county entered into a contract with the State Highway Commission of Missouri, whereby the Highway Commission purchased the connecting highway and was given an option to acquire the remaining part of the facility when the revenue bonds had been retired. Pursuant to this contract the Highway Commission acquired the Lewis Bridge on December 29, 1950, and freed it from toll charges after January 1, 1951.

Subsequently it became apparent that flood waters would render the connecting highway between the two bridges impassable from time to time, and in 1952, the county and the Highway Commission modified their 1936 contract to provide that the Highway Commission would construct a separate levee-type connecting highway to be paid for out of tolls collected by the county until June 30, 1956. The modified contract also permitted the county to use toll revenues to "improve, alter and enlarge the approach to the Clark Bridge in the City of Alton, Illinois."

Thereafter tolls in the sum of $2,140,000, collected at the sole toll station in Alton, were used to construct the new connecting highway in St. Charles County, but no funds were used to improve the approach to the Clark Bridge in Alton.

On or about June 1, 1956, the county of St. Charles announced that it would discontinue the collection of toll charges on July 1, 1956, and on June 25, 1956, it ordered the conveyance of the Clark Bridge and its approaches to "the State of Missouri acting by and through the State Highway Commission of Missouri."

Thereafter, on June 28, 1956, the city of Alton filed a complaint in the city court of Alton against the county of St. Charles in the State of Missouri, a body politic and corporate, the county court of St. Charles County and the judges thereof. The complaint set up the threatened transfer of the bridge; that the Clark Bridge enters the principal east-west business street in Alton at grade and at a right angle, interferes with traffic and constitutes a hazard to the public; that it was contemplated that tolls would be charged after the retirement of the outstanding bonds for the purpose of furnishing funds for the construction of new bridge approaches in Alton.

It was further alleged that the city of Alton and its citizens would suffer grave and irreparable damage by the threatened transfer of the bridge in that (1) no funds would be available for the construction of new Alton approaches; (2) the city of Alton would be deprived of all control of the portion of bridge located therein; (3) the city may be liable for injuries sustained on the approaches without a right to recover over; and (4) the bridge, if unguarded, would create a hazard to children and other pedestrians.

The complaint prayed for an injunction against the transfer of that part of the bridge facility lying within the city of Alton and against the elimination of toll charges, and for the appointment of a receiver to take over and control that portion of the bridge facility.

On June 28, a temporary injunction issued, a receiver was appointed, and the court ordered that the receiver should cease to act if the defendants acquiesced in the provisions of the injunction. A further order was entered on June 29 continuing the receivership, and authorizing the employment of persons and the collection of tolls. The receiver thereafter took over the portion of the bridge facility within the city of Alton and has been exacting tolls for its use.

Neither the State of Missouri nor the State Highway Commission were made parties to the injunction suit. Summons and a copy of the complaint were served on all the defendants by service on L.H. Maas, as agent of the county of St. Charles, and by further service on A.J. Echele, assistant manager, agent and clerk of the county at their office in Alton, by the Sheriff of Madison County, and were also personally served upon all of the judges of the county court of the county of St. Charles in the State of Missouri, by the sheriff of St. Charles County, Missouri, in said ...


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