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Stimulus money on its way to the region
(Image: Duluth International Airport is due to receive $7.1 in stimulus funds towards its new terminal, but it’s contingent on whether the state supplies matching dollars.)
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed into law by President Obama on Feb. 17, 2009 includes measures to modernize our nation’s infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable healthcare, and provide tax relief.
As of April 28, stimulus funding heading for Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District totals $61.8 million. Here are the highlights.
Ash River Neutrino Project
The single largest grant to the region is $40.1 million through the Department of Energy to build a subatomic particle detector near Orr, 40 miles southeast of International Falls. The device will supplement research that may shed light on the origins of the universe, conducted at the University of Minnesota in the Tower-Soudan Mine since the 1980s.
The new detector, weighing 33 million pounds, will be housed in a building 45 feet below ground.
Funding has been pending for years. The Bush Administration budgeted $30 million for the project but Congress cut it.
The entire project costs $260 million. Construction is expected to be finished in 2010 while the completion of the detector’s assembly is expected by 2014.
Duluth International Airport
The Duluth Airport Authority will receive $7.1 million as part of the federal economic stimulus package to use toward Phase I construction and Phase II design for a revamped terminal.
Receiving the stimulus money, however, is dependent on state matching funds. The airport authority is requesting $4.9 million in state bonding this year. Initially the funds were included in the state Senate budget bill but not the House bill. Later the House added $4 million, insufficient to leverage the federal money.
On April 28 the issue still was in conference committee. Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, believes it will be in the conference bill presented to Gov. Tim Pawlenty, but whether Pawlenty will agree to it is questionable.
To date, $46 million has been raised for the project. Brian Ryks, Duluth airport executive director, hopes the balance will come from an $11.7 million state bonding request in 2010, the state airport trust fund, and the federal Transportation Security Administration.
The project will require $65 million — $42 million for the terminal and $23 million for site work. Construction would create an estimated 200 jobs.
If funding is secured, site preparation would begin this summer. Work on the terminal itself would begin in 2010 with the entire project finished by late 2011.
projects approved to date
• $5 million to repaint Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge.
• $4.4 million to Chisholm-Hibbing Municipal Airport to rehabilitate a runway.
• Weatherization: Duluth $850,300, St. Louis County $467,800, Minnesota Chippewa Tribe $710,600.
• Health services: Lake Superior Community Health Center, Duluth, $233,768; Sawtooth Clinic, Grand Marais, $139,262; Cook Area Health Service, $258,217.
• Funds for low income housing through Housing and Redevelopment Authorities: Duluth $2.39 million; Virginia $551,203; Hibbing $562,278; Aitkin County $227,731; Chisholm $174,909; Ely $168,054; Grand Rapids $137,099; International Falls $124,360; Cloquet $118,043; Cass Lake $91,054; Cook $85,910; Two Harbors $83,786; Gilbert $69,271; Itasca County $69,163; Pine River $68,988; Eveleth $68,472; Moose Lake $56,913; Carlton $26,040.
While the federal stimulus law includes financing for federal government building restoration, housing and economic development projects, apparently none that were submitted from the northwest region have been approved to date, other than road construction and a $1.6 million grant to the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board for job training programs. The region has the highest unemployment rates in the state.
Some local officials also have been disappointed at the pace of the approval and funding processes. “It hasn’t moved as fast as many of us had hoped,” said Myron Schuster, executive director of the Northwest Regional Planning Commission. Schuster also noted the potential for massive waste and fraud with the federal public works spending at unprecedented levels. “No question these projects need to be reviewed,” he said.
Road construction: Minnesota
“This is the largest state transportation construction season in the history of the Minnesota Arrowhead Region,” said Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) District 1 Engineer Mike Robinson. The district includes all or part of Koochiching, Itasca, Aitkin, Kanabec, Pine, Carlton, St. Louis, Lake and Cook counties.
A total $105 million will be spent on 33 projects in the district. Ten are funded with $37.6 million in federal stimulus dollars:
• U.S. 53 (St. Louis County) from state Hwy. 194 to Independence: new pavement (13.6 miles, estimated value $18 million);
• U.S. 169 (St. Louis County) west of Chisholm: pavement subsidence mitigation/strengthening (0.75 mile, original bid $7.4 million);
• State Hwy. 65 (Aitkin County) north of McGregor from State Hwy 210 to just south of the Big Sandy River: new pavement, turn lanes, bypass lanes, culvert replacement (11.5 miles, original bid $5.1 million);
• State Hwy. 23 (St. Louis County) from Fond du Lac to Gary: new pavement, sidewalk improvements, lighting (five miles, estimated value $4.4 million).
• State Hwy. 194 (St. Louis County) from Mesaba Avenue to Anderson Road. New pavement (2.5 miles, original bid $1.56 million).
• Interstate-35 (Pine & St. Louis counties), U.S. 53 (St. Louis County): building/site preservation work at four rest areas (estimated value $700,000).
• Interstate-35 (St. Louis County), State Hwy. 61 (Cook County): landscape rehabilitation at three state entry signs (estimated value $135,000);
• State Hwy. 61 (Lake County), Silver Creek Cliff & Lafayette Bluff tunnels: anti-skid treatments (original bid $79,253).
• Interstate-35 (Carlton County) near bridge over Carlton County Hwy. 61 (Atkinson Bridge): Living snow fence and landscaping (original bid $73,870);
• District-wide curve safety chevrons (original bid $45,467).
Road construction: Wisconsin
Wisconsin will receive about $529 million in stimulus funds for repair of state and local highway and bridges. The first bids for projects selected by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for that stimulus funding were let on April 28, with two more rounds of bid-letting scheduled May 27 and June 23.
Apparent low bids were announced April 28 for five bridge and highway projects in 10 northwest counties:
• Burnett County: State Highway 70 resurfacing of about 14 miles between Siren and Spooner (Viola Lake to East County Line); Monarch Paving Co., Amery, WI, $3,043,946.
• Iron County: Montreal River bridge replacement and approach on Poplar Street in Hurley; Edward Kraemer & Sons, Plain, WI, $579,414.
• Barron County: Yellow River bridge replacement and approach on 18th Avenue in Town of Barron; Larson Construction, Chippewa Falls, WI, $438,861.
• Douglas County: Brule River bridge replacement and approach on McNeil’s Landing Road in Town of Clover, Edward Kraemer & Sons, Plain, WI, $336,522.
• Douglas County: Little Amnicon River bridge replacment and approach on Rice Farm Road in Town of Oakland, Ruzic Construction, Neillsville, WI, $313,780.
The May 27 bid-letting round will include four other highway projects in the region:
• Ashland County: Resurfacing of about 16 miles of U.S. 2 between Odanah and Saxon (Government Road to East County Line).
• Price County: Holmes Creek bridge replacement and approach.
• Price County: Hallstrand Road bridge replacement and approach, Town of Ogema.
• Price County: Douglas Creek bridge replacement and approach, Morner Road in the Town of Prentice.
No projects in the 10-county region are scheduled for bid-letting at the June 23 round.Previous Construction Articles:
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