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State Representative Alice Hausman

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Posted: 2017-04-25
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Press Release

House bonding bill delays will cost millions


The last bonding bill was signed following special session in June, 2015. The 2017 construction season has arrived and, with the future of a bonding bill unknown, critically important projects all over the state could cost millions more because of estimated interest rate hikes.  

“There is a substantial cost to Minnesota taxpayers if important ready-to-go projects are delayed,” said Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL Lead of Capital Investment. “Interest charges are going up, which will result in additional project costs. Minnesota communities anxiously continue to wait for action at the Capitol while their infrastructure crumbles and the repair costs rises significantly.”  

Millions in federal dollars could be lost if these projects aren’t approved.

Three projects in jeopardy of losing federal dollars:

  • A $47 million federal match for the state's $25.4 million portion of the total $72 million cleanup project in the St. Louis River estuary and bay.

  • A $25 million state match leverages $85 million in US EPA grants for revolving fund low-interest loans for municipal water infrastructure projects.

  • Duluth Airport Runway Reconstruction – The primary runway at Duluth International Airport is more than 60 years old, leaving it unable to handle the demands of commercial air travel and the 148th F-16 Fighter Wing based in Duluth. State funds of $6.6 million leverages $39 million in Federal Aviation Administration funding.

In 2016, with minutes remaining in the session, the previously failed bonding bill was taken from the table and – with an error-ridden spreadsheet and other serious mistakes – was passed in chaotic fashion. 

Rep. Hausman said it would be foolish to head down this failed, rushed path again.

“I have continually advocated that the House, Senate, and Governor’s Office work together early on a bonding bill with full public input and transparency,” said Rep. Hausman.  “It is difficult to get a balanced and fair bonding bill crafted for the entire state. Now it’s less than 4 weeks until our constitutional adjournment and GOP leadership has given no indication if there will even be a bonding bill and, if so, which projects will be included. Using the bonding bill as a political bargaining chip is unwise and the public deserves better.”

Among the projects on hold is Phase 2 of the St. Peter Security Hospital. The renovated facility would improve safety by eliminating blind spots and challenging sightlines that make it difficult for staff to account for all patients. There were 370 patient assaults on staff with injuries the past 5 years - last year 51 injuries were patient-on-patient assaults. The 2014 bonding bill included $56 million for Phase 1 design and new residential and programming facilities.

“Patients and staff face extremely dangerous situations every day,” said Rep. Jack Considine (DFL-Mankato), “It’s inexcusable that the state isn’t doing everything they can to minimize the possibility that someone could be seriously injured just by going to work. I can’t think of any other profession or in any other health care setting that we, as a society, don’t make every effort to reduce the potential for devastating injury. We can’t wait another minute to make these upgrades.”

High priority projects ready and waiting for bonding dollars: 

  • Design work on a $34 million upgrade to Detroit Lakes' wastewater treatment facilities is done.The city now awaits approval of a bonding bill that includes between $12 and $17 million in Public Facilities Authority grant funding for the new wastewater plant.The project can’t move forward without the state funds.

  • St. Cloud Prison Phase 2.This would help protect public and employee safety by investing $19 million to complete a new intake unit.Phase 1 was funded in the 2014 bonding bill.

  • 1868 Lanesboro Stone Dam repair.The dam is a high hazard structure that is very unstable and will be removed if repairs are not funded.The removal would release hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of silt and fill the bedrock channel downstream with silt, destroying the canoe industry and smothering the pristine trout habitat.

  • Moorhead Rail Grade Separation – An average of 85 trains pass through the City of Moorhead each day, many of them carrying crude oil from North Dakota. However, the current layout of the streets and train tracks makes it impossible to install railroad gates at the current intersection.

  • Prairie Island Rail Grade Separation – Approximately 40 trains per day traveling at up to 79 miles per hour pass through the area. A derailment or crash blocking Sturgeon Lake Road could have serious consequences because the road is Prairie Island’s only public roadway and evacuation route. The need is heightened by the presence of the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant and Lock and Dam Number 3.

  • Coon Rapids Rail Grade Separation – The Hanson Boulevard rail crossing is regularly blocked by trains awaiting clearance to enter the nearby Northtown Rail Yard. The blockage can cut the city in half – making it difficult for emergency vehicles to travel across town without detours.

  • Rail and Pipeline Safety Training – Currently, Minnesota has 4,444 rail route miles used by 20 railroads, which annually move more than one trillion tons of freight through the state. To ensure first responders are prepared for emergencies, the bill invests $3.521 million in an oil train derailment and pipeline safety training center at Camp Ripley.

  • Repairing the historic truss bridge on the campus of the Minneapolis Veterans Home – cost $7.851 million. Built in 1908, the bridge carries Soldiers’ Home Road over Minnehaha Creek and provides access to the Minneapolis Veterans Home from Minnehaha Park. The bridge was found unsafe and closed to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic in August 2014. Access to the campus is now limited to one entrance (North) from 46th Ave S. All traffic, including resident, staff, visitor & construction must enter and exit campus through one point of access. The lost usage of the bridge creates an increased vulnerability due to limited access to the campus for security or other first responder type emergencies.

     

In addition, Higher Education projects stalled by inaction on the bonding bill:

  • Basic infrastructure maintenance and asset preservation at the Minnesota State and University of Minnesota campuses statewide. The type of projects that would be funded include roof repairs, heating and cooling system repair and replacement, and electrical equipment repairs.

  • UMD Advanced Sciences Building – The University of Minnesota Duluth’s current chemistry building was originally constructed in 1948 and lacks adequate ventilation, chemical storage space, safety infrastructure, and working gas lines and valves.

  • North Mankato’s South Central College – Healthcare, STEM, agribusiness, and manufacturing are among the fastest growing sectors of the economy in southeast Minnesota.

  • Winona State University Education Village – Winona State University has more than 2,000 education majors, comprising 20 percent of the student body. The Education Village project would complete the renovation of existing space into modern, integrated classrooms for students pursuing careers in teaching.

“Projects across the state are ready to go,” said Rep. Hausman. “The missing piece is getting the House Republicans to reveal what’s in their bonding bill and bring it to the House Floor. We’re waiting. Communities across Minnesota are waiting. It’s time for action.”

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