Sparks: Legislature behind on bills, bonding plan

Published 10:29 am Monday, April 9, 2012

By Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin

Minn. House District 27

The legislature is beginning a one-week break to observe the Easter and Passover holidays. Typically by this point in a legislative session, we have passed most major bills for the year and are prepared to return from break to focus on conference committees and session adjournment. This year, the legislature has passed disappointingly few bills, and almost none that address one of the biggest concerns of Minnesotans: Jobs.

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The Bonding Committee that I serve on passed a bonding bill last week, and we expected the full Senate to vote on the bill last week. For some reason, the Republican majority has delayed the bonding bill and it still awaits approval. With record-low interest rates and low construction costs, this is one of the best times to invest in improvement projects across our state, creating thousands of new jobs in the process. I am very hopeful that we prioritize this bill when we return on April 16 so we can have a productive end to the 2012 session.

In other news, I met this month with officials from the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s District 6 office to get an update on some area road and bridge projects. Many of these routes are in serious disrepair, and I’m often asked what’s being done about these problems at the state level.

Thanks to a combination of federal funds, responsible budget management and other state revenue, Mn/DOT has been able to schedule construction and repair on some of these needed projects beginning as soon as this year. Below is a list of some of the major improvements you will see in the coming months, as well as a few high-profile projects slated for completion in the near future.

First, the three-mile stretch of Highway 13 from Highway 69 to Interstate 90 will receive bituminous mill and overlay to improve the condition of the road. The $2.8 million project will run from August to September, with long-term lane closures expected.

A four-mile stretch of Highway 56 from Highway 63 to LeRoy also will receive bituminous mill and overlay. This project will cause lane closures during September and October.

Next summer, Highway 65 will receive mill and overlay from the Iowa border to Interstate 35, as will Highway 69, from the Iowa border to Highway 13. The department also plans preventative maintenance on I-90 from Highway 105 to Mower County Road 19. Highway 63, from Highway 16 to Stewartville, also is on the list of projects that will be completed in the near future.

Motorists can expect to see various bridge maintenance projects and other upgrades happening as they drive this summer. If you have questions on these projects, the Mn/DOT District 6 office in Rochester is a great resource, or feel free to contact my office.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me any time at: sen.dan.sparks@; 651-296-9248; Room 19 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155.