Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Slightly better than burying dollar bills in bottles 

The stimulus bill will not result in much spending here in the St. Cloud area, at least not in transportation. Larry Schumacher reports:
A Waite Park road extension on the city�s southwest side is the only St. Cloud-area transportation project to receive funding thus far from a federal stimulus bill signed into law Tuesday.

Waite Park will receive $2.7 million from the stimulus bill to advance construction on a 28th Avenue extension between Minnesota Highway 23 and Stearns County Road 137, City Engineer Terry Wotzka said.

The project met the stimulus bill�s criteria of being �shovel-ready� and a job creator that would not have otherwise happened this year, Wotzka said.

...[APO Transportation Planner Kirby Becker] said the other two requests didn�t make the cut: $4 million to advance the West Metro Corridor realignment of Stearns County Road 134 and widening of Stearns County Road 4, and $3.5 million to extend the Beaver Islands Trail along the Mississippi River from St. Cloud�s Civic Center to Hester Park.

Duluth will receive $6.6 million for projects in the stimulus bill and Rochester will receive $8.5 million, he said.
Hard to believe we couldn't get the money for a bike trail in Oberstar's America. But I would have thought, given the Obama Administration's commitment to transparency, that we would understand why a road that goes to a park is chosen above a road widening that helps traffic flow between St. Cloud and growing Sartell.

The project begins in June, maybe.
Highlights of the project will include a four-lane, undivided roadway extension with a trail alongside and a new trail on County Road 137 near Quarry Park, plus a signal change at Highway 23 and the realignment of part of County Road 137 near the new intersection, he said.

Though the road project is 100 percent federally funded, Waite Park officials must still come up with up to $3.5 million in local funding to pay for a new sewer and water line installation, Wotzka said.

�This is a future growth corridor for the city,� he said. �The new sewer and water lines will facilitate that.�

City officials are still negotiating some right-of-way land acquisition that could delay the project, he said.
That's the last sentence of the story, and it says that maybe this project isn't shovel-ready. And it's a road to no businesses, only a residential area and a county park that could be "a future growth corridor." If it wasn't going to be otherwise funded, does anyone ask why? Could it be, perhaps, that it wasn't worth the money?

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