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Governor details results of 2003 transportation spending package


Gov. Tim Pawlenty put out a report today on major highway projects that were built with money from the 2003 Transportation Finance Package.

(Note the final paragraph of the report below, which refers to the “Pawlenty-Molnau Finance Package.” We haven’t heard much from — or about — Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau since February, when she was removed from her second job as transportation commissioner by the state Senate.)

The governor notes that the final projects to be completed with the 2003 funding are the widening of Highway 34 through Park Rapids and reconstruction of Highway 10 through Detroit Lakes.

By using the funds to speed up these road projects, they were completed a cumulative 65 years ahead of schedule, he said.
That 2003 Transportation Finance bill authorized the sale of $400 million in highway bonds. Revenue from the bonds allowed the state to access $425 million in advance federal funds for 2004-2007. The overall package also included up to $100 million over four years to advance rehabilitation projects that improve safety and help preserve existing roadways, $36 million for statewide transit capital improvements, including park-and-ride lots, bus ramps and buses, and  $5 million in federal funds for public transit systems in Greater Minnesota.

Pawlenty calculates that accelerating the projects saved about $140 million in inflation costs and generated an additional $200 million to $300 million in user benefits.

The governor’s report lists 11 projects:

• Highway 53 in Duluth, a $14.3 million project completed in 2007.

• Highway 34 through Park Rapids, a $12.9 million project to widen it to five lanes.

• Highway 371, north of Little Falls, a $20.5 million four-lane reconstruction project.

• Highway 101, near Elk River, a $62.3 million project completed this summer that included  upgrades to several signalized intersections and creation of full interchanges.

• Highway 10 in Detroit Lakes, a $54.6 million project completed in late October that included alignment and widening three miles of roadway.

• Highway 52 in Oronoco, a $40.4 million project to replace two dangerous, at-grade intersections with grade-separated facilities and a frontage road system.

• Highway 14 in Janesville/Waseca, a $47 million project to add 12 additional miles of four-lane roadway.

• Highway 212 in Chaska/Carver/Chanhassen/Eden Prairie/Dahlgren, a $246.4 million new alignment meant to ease travel for southwest commuters.

• Interstates 694 and 35E in Vadnais Heights/Little Canada, the $128.3 million “Unweave the Weave” project to reconstruct this heavily congested commons area.

• Highway 169 in Eden Prairie/Bloomington, a $23 million project to construct new interchanges at Pioneer Trail and Anderson Lakes Parkway.

• Interstate 494 in Minnetonka/Eden Prairie/Plymouth, a $145.7 million reconstruction from four to six lanes that has increased capacity by 50 percent.