Comments from the Mayor of St. Louis about replacement of an old bridge at the central Missouri town of Tuscumbia trigger resentment in the state senate. The first highway project to use federal stimulus money will be the replacement of that 75-year old bridge across the Osage River. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay has told CNN it’s wrong to spend that money on a bridge in the middle of nowhere instead of using the money in St. Louis. "This is an insult to the city of St. Louis," he told the CNN interviewer. He also claims it’s a violation of federal law and probably contrary to the intent of Congress.
Outstate lawmakers such as Frank Barnitz of Lake Spring are offended by what they see as Slay’s parochialism. Barnitz notes the bridge carries hundreds of motorists to jobs in Jefferson City, about 35 miles to the north. He says Missouri’s largest military base, Fort Leonard Wood, uses the bridge as a way to get in our out of the fort during emergencies. "I just find it amazing that the Mayor of St.Louis doesn’t recognize rural Missouri and the needs of our infrastructure that would be protective of his interests in St. Louis as well," he says.
St. Louis Senator Robin Wright-Jones felt the need to apologize to fellow senators for Slay’s comment. "That infringes on the good will of the chamber as I try to establish relationships on behalf of the city of St.Louis and our needs," she tells fellow senators.
Slay says only two million stimulus dollars will be spent in his city. The state transportation department says 200-million will be spent in the St.Louis area—and that doesn’t count the millions already being spent on rebuilding Interstate 64/Highway 40 and on other projects.