Dear Congress, Northland communities would like...With the $789 billion federal stimulus bill expected to be signed Monday, many local government agencies already have their hands out seeking money for buses, rail, green roofs, windows, roads and trails.
With the $789 billion federal stimulus bill expected to be signed Monday, many local government agencies already have their hands out seeking money for buses, rail, green roofs, windows, roads and trails.
“We want to make sure Duluth is competitive for those dollars so we can put people to work making an investment in our community,” said Duluth Mayor Don Ness, referring to the $31.6 million the city will request.
The stimulus is expected to bring about 7,400 jobs to Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District and about 7,800 jobs to Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District, according to federal estimates.
On Duluth’s list are projects to replace City Hall windows and the library mechanical system, extend the Lakewalk and put a green roof — one made of plant matter — on a maintenance building in West Duluth.
The priority when selecting the projects, Ness said, was making sure they’re ready to go and would create jobs as soon the city got the money.
“Things are going to be moving extra-quickly from this point forward,” Ness said.
The city of Duluth isn’t the only local government agency seeking federal money. Other agencies, from the Duluth Port Authority to the Airport Authority to the Duluth Transit Authority, have extensive wish lists.
Duluth public schools
Duluth schools had hoped for about $60 million in federal money but probably won’t fare well when the cash is finally given out. Congressional negotiators this week erased a $16 billion line-item for school construction, which means it doesn’t appear any money will be placed toward this year’s school construction projects.
Superintendent Keith Dixon said he had hoped a series of red plan-related construction projects would receive stimulus money.
Duluth Transit Authority
The DTA is seeking about $4 million for 10 new full-size buses, ranging from 35 to 40 feet in length, and three smaller buses, about 25 feet long. It also has proposed spending about $600,000 on computer equipment, energy conservation upgrades, a hoist repair and new snow removal equipment.
Housing & Redevelopment Authority
The housing agency’s potential projects range from putting new siding, roofs and front porches on some of their homes throughout the city for about $750,000 to spending as much as $1 million to replace bricks at West Duluth’s Ramsey Manor. The HRA intends to do sewer work, upgrades to common areas in the public high rises, and install more energy-efficient equipment, said Rick Ball, executive director for the HRA.
Duluth Seaway Port Authority
The Port Authority wants money to help renovate the disintegrating Garfield D dock. The project, which involves driving new sheet piling and filling in eroded portions of the dock, is expected to cost about $7.5 million. In its current condition, the dock is no longer functional, but it could be repaired and used to handle a variety of shipping activity, including project cargoes, slab steel transport and potentially a bentonite clay terminal.
Minnesota Department of Transportation
MnDOT has identified eight road projects in Northeastern Minnesota. Together the projects carry an estimated cost of about $40.5 million, with the biggest-ticket item a concrete overlay of Highway 53 through the Fish Lake area, at $21.9 million. The list also includes about $5 million to reduce the risk of Highway 169 giving way near Chisholm because of past underground mining activity.
MnDOT also has included a couple of recreational trail projects, including work on the Willard Munger State Trail and a new trail near Lutsen as part of the Gitchi-Gami State Trail.
St. Louis County
The county has identified 12 projects with a total cost of $23.7 million. They include $2.6 million for improvements to Rice Lake Road between Arrowhead and Martin roads and $1.6 million for Rice Lake Road between Mesaba Avenue and Martin Road. Additionally, $3.2 million is being sought for Midway Road between Trunk Highways 2 and 14.
St. Louis County also has proposed spending $1.6 million to complete work on the Mesabi Trail bike and walking path between Giants Ridge and Minnesota Highway 135, and $450,000 to reconstruct the Buchanan historical site near the Lake County line on Scenic Highway 61.
Duluth Airport Authority
Its top priority is a new terminal building. Brian Ryks, executive director of the authority, said Phase One of the project probably will require an investment of $10 million to $12 million. Another candidate for federal investment at the airport would be $800,000 to $900,000 to purchase passenger boarding bridges that would replace aging structures with recurring maintenance issues, Ryks said.
Northern Lights Express
Supporters of the proposed high-speed rail line between Minneapolis and Duluth are seeking about $24 million for advance work, including engineering and the development of plans for a bypass north of Minneapolis.
The recreation area will seek $6 million to draw water for snowmaking from the St. Louis River rather than the city of Duluth’s pipes. Currently, Spirit Mountain sometimes can’t make snow when water use is at capacity in West Duluth. A headline on the Drudge Report Web site last month criticized the request: “$6 million for making snow — in Minnesota?” which led to derision by some conservative radio talk show hosts.
City of Superior
The city’s $42 million list of projects includes a $7.5 million repair of the Montreal Pier dock, located directly southeast of Barker’s Island.
Also on the list are utility, road and storm water upgrades in the Winter Street Industrial Park, reconstructing Moccasin Mike and Wisconsin Point roads and rehabilitating the Faxon Creek culvert that runs under Hill Avenue.
Other projects: improvements to several culverts and streets; creating a power-generation plant that would convert methane gas at the landfill into usable energy; about $2 million for sidewalk improvements, and $800,000 to replace the Arrowhead Pier, according to Mayor Dave Ross.
Shelley Nelson, editor of the Superior Telegram, contributed to this report.
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