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Nixon, Lawmakers Want To Issue Bonds To Fund Missouri Capitol Repairs

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Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio
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Gov. Jay Nixon and a bipartisan group of lawmakers are touting plans to pass a bond issue to fund repairs to the state Capitol in Jefferson City.

Along with legislators and reporters, Nixon toured areas of the under-section of the nearly century-old building Monday, observing mud, mold, and stalactites from dripping water that have formed underneath the old carriage passage-turned-driveway.

"Needless to say, the stalactites we just saw in the basement were not decorative," Nixon told reporters after the tour. "Each day the water continues to seep through the damaged stonework is another day that the structural integrity of this iconic building weakens, and each day we wait to address these issues, we add to the ultimate cost of fixing them."

Nixon, a Democrat, says early estimates place the price tag for repairs to the Capitol between $40 million and $75 million.  Senate Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, also took the tour.  He said afterward that the Capitol basement specifically is "getting to be a place where it's dangerous to work."

Mold covers a wall inside a cave-like room underneath the south side of the Missouri Capitol. This photo was taken in December 2014.
Credit Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio
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Damage to an underground wall of the Capitol caused by water infiltration. The green substance is mold. A spokesperson with the Office of Admin. says it's a "very general mold" that is not harmful to people who work in the building.

"We've got water infiltration that's undermining the foundation of the building, and it's going to cave in upon itself if something's not done in the not too distant future," Richard said.  "Placing people to work (in the Capitol building), whether it's mold problems or asbestos problems, I mean, we couldn't do that in private business. How can we do it in a public place?"

In addition, Nixon told reporters after the tour that somewhere between $40 million and 70 million in bonds would need to be issued to cover the cost of repairs to the Capitol.

Earlier this year, lawmakers passed legislation authorizing the use of up to $600 million in bonds to repair and maintain state and university-owned buildings across the state.  But little was done after specific projects were vetoed in a separate budget bill.

Construction on the current State Capitol in Jefferson City was completed in 1917.  It's the third Capitol building in Jefferson City.  The first was built in 1826 near the site of the current Governor's Mansion, but was destroyed by fire in 1837.  The second Capitol was already under construction when the first one burned up -- it was expanded in the 1880's, and was also destroyed by fire on Feb. 5, 1911.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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