Bonding for bridges: Governor offers his plan

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A fourfold increase over the previous record investment in local bridges is among the highlights of the bonding recommendations proffered by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Of the nearly $1.09 billion proposal, $965 million would come from general obligation bonding. The package stays within the 3 percent debt service limit.

More than 43 percent of the bill is aimed at statewide projects, 29.8 percent to projects in the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area and 27 percent to Greater Minnesota projects.

Transportation accounts for nearly 40 percent of the bill, including $225 million for local bridge replacement. The amount, which would cover the state share to replace 600 local spans, is more than four times larger than any previous bill in state history. The amount would be allocated on a priority basis deemed from lists compiled by the Department of Transportation.

The bill also contains $70 million for the Central Corridor rail project between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul, and $55 million for the state share of an Urban Partnership Agreement. The latter will let the state receive $133.3 million from the federal government for a project that includes a congestion pricing lane to Interstate 35W south of downtown Minneapolis, rebuilding two Minneapolis streets for better transit use and adding park and ride facilities.

Higher education accounts for 23.7 percent of the bill. The University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system would each receive $129 million under Pawlenty’s plan.

The environment and outdoors would receive $175 million, or 16 percent, of the proposed funds. This includes $46 million for drinking water and wastewater treatment facility improvements and $30 million for wetland preservation activities.

Other than $40 million for a new arena in Duluth, the proposal contains no local projects.

“There were many meritorious local projects requested, but this is not the year to do them,” Pawlenty said.

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