Franken backs infrastructure repairsPublished 4:33pm Saturday, September 24, 2011
Work to repair Mower County’s nearly 100 deficient bridges gained some support last week.
U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., is calling for a plan he said would kill two birds with one stone: put Minnesotans back to work and improve the state’s infrastructure.
“Minnesota has so many men and women in construction who are on the bench — and have been for a long time — and so many projects in need of their skills,” Franken said in a news release. “We should get them back to work rebuilding roads and bridges across the state that are in need of repair.”
Franken cited a Transportation for America study released this spring highlighting deficiencies in the state’s bridges. Franken said rebuilding those bridges would put thousands of Minnesotans back to work and boost the economy.
“While we’re going to have to make some big cuts in our spending, we shouldn’t cut the things we know will help our economy get back on its feet. Investing in infrastructure is a great way to grow our economy, put people back to work and take care of much-needed work on our state’s roads and bridges.”
According the report, has the second highest percentage of deficient bridges in the state at 23.5 percent. The study stated Mower County has 77 deficient structures out of 327. But in April, Public Works Director Mike Hanson said there were about 99 deficient bridges out of a total of 369. That would put Mower County at the highest percentage in the state, at 26.8 percent.
However, Hanson said the number of deficient bridges has decreased since then, and the county is constantly working to bring the number down.
Hanson said additional funds from the state would speed up that process.
“We’re spending the money that’s available now in a pretty expeditious manner,” Hanson said.
Bridges on County Roads 1, 7 and 8 are all slated to be replaced.
The county also approved the first phase of a $3.6 million renovation and restoration project on the Roosevelt Bridge, which spans the Cedar River on Fourth Street SE between Fourth Avenue and Sixth Avenue.
Hanson said additional bridge projects will be discussed later this year. The county has a plan to replace about six bridges each year.
“We’re going to continue to spend the available funds as efficiently and rapidly as possible,” Hanson said.
However, Hanson said t there are many differing schools of though about where funding for bridges and infrastructure should come from, so additional funding is far from guaranteed.