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Missouri says no to financing help in proposed bridge

Mississippi Bridge rendering.
Mississippi Bridge rendering.

By Maria Hickey, KWMU

St. Louis, MO. – An offer from Illinois to help Missouri finance its share of the proposed Mississippi River Bridge has been rebuffed.

Missouri Governor Matt Blunt's chief-of-staff Ed Martin sent a letter to lllinois state Representative Jay Hoffman late last month.

In it Martin thanked Illinois officials for the offer but said Missouri has a "paying problem, not a borrowing problem."

Representative Hoffman says Illinois offered to pay for more than half of the $1.5 billion bridge and help Missouri finance its share.

"We would assist in financing their portion and they could pay us over time," Hoffman said. "That's not unprecedented. Missouri did a similar proposal or financing option for Illinois when the Hannibal bridge was built and the Cape Girardeau bridge was built."

Hoffman says those projects were smaller, but he adds there was an understanding that Illinois would reciprocate when the Mississippi River Bridge was built.

The letter from Blunt's office renewed Missouri's call for tolls on the bridge.

Hoffman says Illinois will never accept tolls when surrounding bridges are free.