After last nights class and a couple of very interesting presentations, I wondered what might be in the works for transportation with all of the new federal stimulus money. From a freakonomics blog post, I learned that most politicians, republicans and democrats, are pretty supportive of most transportation initiatives as long as they bring home some money and projects for their home states. Kind of like a whats in it for me attitude.
So, whats in it for Minnesota?
I have heard of one project going on here from where I work. (I work at the Minnesota State Council on Disability, a small state agency.) The Met Council recently held a hearing to decide what it wants to do with some federal stimulus money. MnDOT was pushing to two large highway projects, an interchange on I-494 and improvements to 610, but there were several others (us included) pushing for several smaller projects to be undertaken. We want to use some of the stimulus money, about 30 million give or take, to be used for ADA compliance, meaning re-doing neighborhood sidewalks that have large cracks, curb cuts, signage, traffic signals, etc. around the state. Many cities have already submitted bids on ADA compliance updates. Ultimately, the Met Council decided to do the small projects and one of the large highway projects (Hwy 610), a fair compromise in my mind. The Startribune ran an article on this.
According to MnDOT, they need to allocate $175 million worth of projects by June 30 in order to comply with the legislation. As of April 23, they had allocated $176 million. Minnesota is receiving a total of $360 million from the stimulus bill for transportation. MnDOT is in charge of using the money, but in the Metro area, the Metropolitan Council must approve all of the projects. An example of one of the smaller projects is re-doing Whitebear Ave in Maplewood. Most of the money is going to road and bridge projects. According to MPR, some of the projects proposed by cities did not go through, like re-doing 77th St. in Richfield.
If anyone else knows of any other specific projects that Minnesota will be doing as a result of the federal stimulus funds, feel free to add a comment!