Dayton’s bonding proposal funds road improvements at TCAAP


Gov. Mark Dayton has included $29 million in state funding as part of his proposed bonding bill for road improvements around TCAAP, including a new bridge on County Road 96 over I-35W and a new interchange at County Road H and I-35W. (graphic courtesy of Google Maps)

Last week Gov. Mark Dayton introduced a nearly $1 billion bonding proposal that includes $29 million to revamp roadways near the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant in Arden Hills.

The $986 million bonding bill would be used to fund many other infrastructure projects across the state. In a written statement, Dayton said the bill would “help address many of the state’s critical infrastructure needs, while strengthening Minnesota’s economy and getting people back to work.”

The $29 million in state funds would be used to pay for a new bridge on County Road 96 over I-35W, a new interchange at County Road H and I-35W, a controlled intersection at 1770 W. County Road 96 with a south entrance into TCAAP and the construction of a spine road through the TCAAP property. The reconstruction project is projected to cost $35 million.

“We’re excited about the $29 million, it’s a tremendous boost,” Ramsey County Commissioner Blake Huffman said. “It will of course help TCAAP, but will also be critical to everyone in northern Ramsey County.”

Huffman noted that Dayton’s 2014 bonding bill would first need legislative approval. A bonding bill requires a two-thirds super majority vote in the House and Senate, and both chambers will draft their own versions of a bonding bill during this next legislative session, beginning Feb 25. Senate and House members will then come together in a conference committee to approve a final draft.

State Representative Barb Yarusso (DFL-Shoreview) and State Senator Bev Scalze (DFL-Little Canada) authored bills in the House and Senate last year to secure funding to pay for the road improvements around TCAAP, and will be reintroducing those bills this session with slight changes. However, the $35 million request in state funding for the project would remain the same.

Yarusso said the governor’s recommendation of $29 million toward the project would leave part of it unfunded, but she said the project would be phased in over time and the county could make a request to the state for the remaining $6 million needed to complete the project at a later date.

Both Yarusso and Huffman said the County Road 96 bridge over I-35W would be given first priority.

“It’s been on MnDot’s wish list for a long time,” Yarusso said. “It’s at the point where if it doesn’t get rebuilt it would need to get re-decked. There is no shoulder, traffic signal or safe bicycle and pedestrian crossing.”

Huffman called the 50-year-old bridge “the worst performing bridge in the area.”

“It’s long outlived its usefulness,” he said.

Ramsey County hopes to start construction on the County Highway 96 and I-35W interchange in spring 2015 and have the work completed by summer 2016. The proposed schedule for the construction at the County Road H and I-35W interchange runs from summer 2016 to fall of 2017.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7824.
 

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