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November 24, 2020

10/23/2020 11:24:00 AM
Hwy. 8 funding phase in bonding bill approved in fifth special session

The $8 million for future Highway 8 improvements authorized in the state bonding and jobs bill, and passed in special session, was good news for local officials working to keep the projects on-track.  House member Bob Dettmer voted in support of the bonding bill.  Rep. Anne Neu and Brian Johnson voted no.  The tally was 100 to 34.

Senators Koran and Housley voted yes on the Senate side.  Total yes was 63.

It was understood a handful of GOP lawmakers would need to cross over and vote for the jobs bill but ultimately 25 Republicans supported it.
Chisago County Engineer Joe Triplett commented after passage in the fifth special session of the legislature, that ideally the bonding package would have moved forward last spring, the timeframe this process ordinarily follows.  This would have positioned it better for Congressional budget review and action.  Still, he added,  “We are not fully funded but we’re on our way.”

Securing the funds will show a commitment to the corridor, when federal dollars are sought. It allows the next steps to advance:  the creation of environmental documents and getting into final design next year.  Triplett said he plans to make personal contact with some key property owners,  who are involved in right-of-way talks and apprise them of the project status.

The state bonding bill monies get the overall work about a third of the way to the needed financial support.  Chisago County “will keep chipping away” at winning other funding available for highway needs, the county engineer promised.

The objective of  this  next round of highway projects is to increase capacity and improve safety, with fewer direct access points and controlled intersections.  The work zone runs from Forest Lake to Karmel Avenue on the west side of downtown Chisago City.  The build schedule is slated for 2023 to 2024.

The bonding measures also had funding for Chisago City to get aid through the PFA of about $1.7 for sewer expansion and it had Forest Lake lift stations’ funding.  The Pine County segment of the Oberstar Trail was included as a line item project.

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