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County seeks grant for 52/9 overpass

KENYON -- Goodhue County Engineer Greg Isakson told commissioners at a board meeting Tuesday that staff had submitted a state grant application to fund an interchange project at Highway 52 and County Road 9 near Cannon Falls -- and that the estimated cost of the project had decreased.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation still plans to install a conflict-reduction intersection at the location this summer, and announced that it will be leveling rolling hills to the south as part of that project, Isakson said.

The county's plan for an overpass already included the cost of leveling the hills, and so its total estimated cost has been reduced to around $8 million, Isakson added.

Other changes made to MnDOT's intersection plan since being presented to the public April 11 include additional U-turn lanes between 90th and 100th avenues and extending the length of merge lanes.

"That should take a little pressure off the township system," Isakson said.

Commissioner Jim Bryant thanked staff for getting the grant application completed on such short notice, and asked Isakson if there was any communication between the county and federal representatives about the project.

"Goodhue County is applying for a grant for a U.S. highway, and that's a major highway maintained and funded by the federal government," Bryant said. "Did we receive any commitment?"

Isakson replied that county staff did speak with staff for U.S. Rep. John Kline.

Although Kline's office voiced support for the project, "they were not very supportive of actually earmarking money for it," Isakson said. "At this point we're not holding our breath to see anything from the federal government."

Bryant reiterated his view that the importance of the project warranted support from the state and federal governments.

"I do not see this as an earmark," Bryant said. "An earmark to me is more of a want, and this is more a definite need -- we heard that loud and clear April 11 when MnDOT hosted that meeting."

"We certainly need the federal government and the state to step up and actually fund what has been determined by a number of people as a need," Bryant continued.

The county aims to fund the overpass largely through a Corridor Investment Management Strategy, or CIMS, grant. This $30 million initiative is intended "to fund trunk highway projects that improve quality of life, environmental health or economic competitiveness," according to MnDOT's website.

The overpass project will compete against 155 other projects around the state, Isakson said. But he added there is the possibility that the state could add money to the fund beyond the $30 million after budget debates in June.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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