Minnesota shutdown has highway contractors in limbo

Attorney representing group goes before a Ramsey County judge to try to restart projects

News KARE 11 July 14, 2011
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While the state of Minnesota continues to sit out a government shutdown, road and bridge builders were trying to stand up for what’s theirs.

Dean Thomson, an attorney representing road contractors, stood before a Ramsey County judge on July 13 trying to move projects forward. Construction was stopped on July 1 when the state legislature reached a budget impasse.

“This is a terrible message to be sending the rest of the country,” said Dave Semerad, executive director of the Associated General Contractors of Minnesota. “We’re sending the rest of the country a message that we can’t get our business done here in Minnesota.”

Thomson argued that the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) had already entered into contracts, and if the agency could not come up with the necessary funding then it needed to shift dollars from other areas.

Judge Kathleen Gearin took the case under advisement, but said Thomson and others needed to force state officials to make a move.

State Rep. Mike Beard and Sen. Joe Gimse, who chair Minnesota’s transportation committee, presented similar arguments to Gearin on July 12.

“Previous legislatures have already appropriated the money that’s being spent on the construction projects that are now grinding to a halt,” said Beard.

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