Here’s what's in that big public works bonding bill

The Minneapolis skyline is seen beyond an industrial site.
The Minneapolis skyline is seen beyond the southern half of the Upper Harbor Terminal industrial site in north Minneapolis on April 16, 2019.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2019

Updated: 5 p.m.

The Minnesota Legislature’s passage this week of a massive public works bonding bill is being celebrated by communities that were lucky enough to have their projects included.

The borrowing provisions in the nearly $1.9 billion special session bill cover construction projects throughout the state. The list includes roads and bridges, water treatment plants, parks and trails, and improvements to state buildings and college campuses. 

The city of Minneapolis received nearly $85 million for local projects, including $12 million for an amphitheater near the Mississippi River. Mayor Jacob Fry was pleased with the bill.   

"This is really a huge win for the city,” Frey said. “Included in the bill, there are our top bonding priorities of the Upper Harbor Terminal, the central storm tunnel, and emergency operations and training facility.”

 St. Paul also did well in the bonding bill. Mayor Melvin Carter was pleased that the $52 million request for a new Third Street Kellogg Bridge was included.

“Amid this pandemic economy, projects like the Third Street Kellogg Bridge will help keep our community connected and get people back to work during these challenging times,” he said.

Other projects in the bill include:

  • $13.5 million for a seawall and surface improvements to the Lakewalk in Duluth

  • $18 million for the Lake Bronson Dam in Kittson County

  • $20.5 million to build infrastructure for a business park in Becker

  • $24 million for wastewater infrastructure in Oronoco

The Metropolitan Council received $55 million for bus rapid transit. The Minnesota Zoo received $13 million for asset preservation and $29.5 million will go toward a new state emergency operations center.

The $20.5 million for a business park in Becker will go toward sewer and water infrastructure work.

Google has proposed building a $600 million data storage center in the park, but the company hasn’t made a final decision.

Becker Mayor Tracy Bertram says the improvements made with the bonding bill funding will benefit more than just one business.

"It's not specific to just Google. It's specific to a large portion of land that where we will have Google as a hopeful tenant of that," she said.

Higher education always gets a large share of bonding bills. The Minnesota State system received a total of $91 million. The University of Minnesota’s bonding total was $75 million.

The U of M share includes $29 million for a new Institute of Child Development building on the Twin Cities campus.

Megan Gunnar, the former director of the institute, says the project has been in the works for years. She says the improvements are needed to match the current work of developmental science.

“The new building will let us all come back and do our research together in the same building, which will have wonderful opportunities for our students to interact more,” Gunnar said.

Correction (Oct. 19, 2020): The amount allocated for the Lake Bronson Dam in Kittson County was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.

MPR News Reporter Brandt Williams contributed to this story

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