The Minnesota Legislature’s passage this week of a massive public works bonding bill is being celebrated by communities that were lucky enough to have their projects included.
The borrowing provisions in the nearly $1.9 billion special session bill cover construction projects throughout the state. The list includes roads and bridges, water treatment plants, parks and trails, and improvements to state buildings and college campuses.
The city of Minneapolis received nearly $85 million for local projects, including $12 million for an amphitheater near the Mississippi River. Mayor Jacob Fry was pleased with the bill.
“This is really a huge win for the city,” said Mayor Jacob Frey. “Included in the bill, there are our top bonding priorities of the Upper Harbor Terminal, the central storm tunnel, and emergency operations and training facility.”
St. Paul also did well in the bonding bill. Mayor Melvin Carter was pleased that the $52 million request for a new Third Street Kellogg Bridge was included.
“Amid this pandemic economy, projects like the Third Street Kellogg Bridge will help keep our community connected and get people back to work during these challenging times,” he said.
Other projects in the bill include:
$13.5 million for a seawall and surface improvements to the Lakewalk in Duluth
$1 million for the Lake Bronson Dam in Kittson County
$20.5 million to build infrastructure for a business park in Becker
$24 million for wastewater infrastructure in Oronoco
The Metropolitan Council received $55 million for bus rapid transit. The Minnesota Zoo received $13 million for asset preservation and $29.5 million will go toward a new state emergency operations center.
In Becker, Google has proposed building a $600 million data storage center in the business park, which is near the Sherco coal-fired power plant.
Mayor Tracy Bertram says the improvements will benefit more than just one business.
“It’s not specific to just Google. It’s specific to a large portion of land that where we will have Google as a hopeful tenant of that,” Bertram said.
Google has not made a final decision on the data center’s location.
The business park is part of city officials’ plan to make up the jobs and tax revenue that will be lost when Xcel Energy retires the Sherco plant by 2030.
Higher education always gets a large share of bonding bills. The Minnesota State system received a total of $91 million. The University of Minnesota’s bonding total was $75 million.
The U of M share includes $29 million for a new Institute of Child Development building on the Twin Cities campus.
Megan Gunnar, the former director of the institute, says the project has been in the works for years. She says the improvements are needed to match the current work of developmental science.
“The new building will let us all come back and do our research together in the same building, which will have wonderful opportunities for our students to interact more,” Gunnar said.
MPR News Reporter Brandt Williams contributed to this story
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