No money, no leadership: Another MNDOT cash flow crisis

$393 million: That’s the new price tag for replacing the fallen Interstate 35W bridge offered to skeptical legislators Monday by an increasingly beleaguered Minnesota Department of Transportation. The current projected cost for a new 10-lane, transit-ready bridge and related expenses such as stepped-up inspections of similar spans across the state is $143 million more than the $250 million the federal government has promised – and $393 million more than has actually been received from Washington. Actual cash transfers to Minnesota are tied up in political disputes between Congress and President Bush and bureaucratic haggling over documentation for reimbursement between state and federal officials. Meanwhile, the state has already spent tens of millions of dollars on rescue and recovery operations after the old bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River Aug. 1, killing 13; cleanup of the site and efforts to speed traffic on 35W detours. Continue Reading

Congress members: Slow response of Pawlenty administration could cost Minnesota

Members of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation sent a strongly worded letter Monday to Gov. Tim Pawlenty urging his administration to apply for emergency funds for the 35W bridge collapse — funds that could quickly disappear. Reps. Jim Oberstar, Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, Tim Walz, and Keith Ellison criticized the Pawlenty administration’s slow response in applying for several streams of funding for disaster relief, reimbursements for the Metropolitan Council, and the rebuilding of the bridge. Oberstar was very critical of the lack of action by the administration. “The legislature gave him a bill that would have made sound investments in our transportation system; he vetoed it. Continue Reading

Higher bridge costs, less MNDOT money

A Contingent Appropriation Group failed to sign off on using $195 million in state reserves to temporarily pay for reconstruction of the Interstate 35W bridge. However, it doesn’t mean it won’t. The bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed Aug. 1, killing 13 people. Federal officials have pledged to pay for the replacement; however, the $195 million is the remaining amount of federal money to be allocated to the state. Continue Reading