No stimulus funds for city, county so far

Published 10:38 am Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Neither Mower County nor the city of Austin were successful in the first round of jockeying for transportation funding from the federal stimulus package.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced Feb. 26 that 60 state highway projects are slated to begin construction in Greater Minnesota as early as this spring.

Federal stimulus package funds targeted for Greater Minnesota highway construction, paving, bridges and safety projects total $180 million.

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Michael Hanson, Mower County highway department engineer, and Jon Erichson, Austin city engineer and director of public works, each said they remain hopeful local projects will be winners in the second round of federal stimulus package funding consideration.

According to Hanson, he submitted six projects for consideration.

Hanson plans to discuss the situation with the Mower County Board of Commissioners.

Tonight, the county commissioners will hold a special work session to examine the county’s financial concerns in the wake of the state budget deficit.

Transportation funding is likely to be on the commissioners’ agenda.

The Austin city engineer said he is “hopeful” the city will be more successful when the second round of project review begins.

State highway projects in the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s District No. 6, which will be funded by federal stimulus package monies include such local projects as:

Interstate 90: Mill and overlay on eastbound lanes from 2.5 miles east of Mower County Road No. 1 to about one mile east of U.S. Highway 63.

Interstate 90: Replace overpass under the I90 westbound off-ramp near the junction of Highway 218 in Austin.

Highway 218: Install four railroad gates at crossing on Highway 218 about a mile and a half north of Austin.

Contracts for the District No. 6 projects will be selected March 13.

Work is expected to begin in May.

District No. 6 has six of the 11 federal stimulus projects, during the first round with the rest of the projects contracts to follow.

The Federal Highway Administration estimates the Greater Minnesota transportation projects will create approximately 5,000 jobs.