Bill seeks money to pay for Minn. bridge

Two bills seeking $6 million for Sauk Rapids bridge now in discussion at state's Capitol

News St. Cloud Times February 09, 2007
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The search for $6 million in additional state funding for the Sauk Rapids bridge in Minnesota has begun at the state's Capitol, the St. Cloud Times reported.

Two bills seeking the $6 million amount--one through state transportation funds and another through the state's bonding process--entered the legislative fight this week with sponsorship from Rep. Dan Severson (R-Sauk Rapids) and Sen. Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville), according to the newspaper.

The money would reimburse Stearns County, which agreed to take out a state loan to cover any shortfall between previously secured funding and the bridge's estimated $58 million total cost, up to $10.5 million, according to Severson.

"They came forward in good faith to cover that gap and they shouldn't be left holding the bag," he said.

The remaining bridge construction costs include an estimated $2.5 million for construction of the bridge and a related pedestrian helix walkway, $2.5 million for road engineering, construction and related demolition on the Benton County side of the Mississippi River and $750,000 for right-of-way costs on the Benton County side, said Jodi Teich, assistant Stearns County engineer.

The additional $6 million sought should cover the remaining funding gap, unless construction bids for the remaining portion of the project come back this spring higher than expected, Teich said. Otherwise, county property taxpayers would have to foot the remainder, she said.

Sauk Rapids is not on the hook for any of the remaining amount, and already has secured and disbursed $8 million in state funds for downtown impact mitigation to help businesses and property owners affected by the bridge, said Ross Olson, Sauk Rapids city administrator.

The city also is putting $1.4 million in local sales-tax dollars toward the bridge cost, along with $2.5 million in local sales-tax dollars from St. Cloud, Olson said.

An additional $2 million being sought by Minnesota congressional representatives would reduce the amount needed from the state, Fischbach said. "We're going to pursue whatever path or combination of paths gets us the best results to get this final amount taken care of," she said.

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