District 24 State Senator John Jasinski of Faribault texted us Thursday with news that funding has been secured for a I-35 and Rice County Road 9 interchange.  The $500,000 appropriation is included in a comprehensive transportation budget bill approved by the Minnesota Senate.

The measure has also passed the House and will be sent to Governor Walz for his signature.

Senator Jasinski has repeatedly told KDHL the project was discussed when he was the Mayor of Faribault.  It's been over a decade, "I've been advocating for this project for years; it is well past time to get it moving," Jasinski says, "The north end of Faribault has seen rapid growth, with Aldi, Saint-Gobain/SageGlass, Trystar, Daikin and Faribault Foods among the businesses that have completed expansions.  Nearly all the existing industrial park land is now in use, and the city is looking for more areas to grow.  This is just the start.  The interchange will not be built overnight, but this will help the project become shovel ready so it can be completed as soon as possible."

The $500,000 will be used to begin a jurisdictional realignment study to examine the estimated construction costs, traffic modeling, environmental analysis and a potential design layout for the interchange.  The study will include trunk highway corridor 3 and trunk highway corridor 21 which Jasinski says will increase the project's chances of securing approval from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

Senator Jasinski also says the bipartisan transportation budget agreement invests billions into the state's transportation infrastructure without a gas tax, mileage tax, sales tax, or license tab fee increase.

The Faribault State Senator says, "Republicans have proven over and over that we don't have to ask Minnesotans to pay higher gas taxes, tab fees, or mileage taxes in order to build roads and bridges.  I am proud that once again we are making these important investments in our transportation infrastructure and that we are doing it right away using existing revenue."

The transportation budget agreement provides $7.8 billion for state roads, including construction, development, and maintenance.  That includes $3.68 billion for State Road Construction and $300 million for Corridors of Commerce.  The bill also provides an additional $14 million for local bridges and an additional $5.5 million for the Local Road Improvement Program as well as an additional $30 million for small city and township roads.

Here are some other things the bill will do:

  • Allow Minnesotans to purchase their license tabs and replacement license plates from fully automated kiosks.
  • It includes language that would designate the section of Trunk Highway 13 from the southern border of Woodville Township to the northern border of Blooming Grove Township as "Corporal Caleb L. Erickson Memorial Highway," named  for Maring Lance Corporal Caleb L. Erickson of Waseca, who was killed in action February 28, 2014 in Helmand Province when his convoy came under attack by a suicide bomber.
  • Includes the Freight Network Optimization Tool to make goods more affordable by reducing supply chain costs and improving the state's shipping transportation network.

Jaskinski also points out the bill keeps the state's commitment to law enforcement by providing $608 million for state patrol and capitol security, including funding to hire 63 new troopers, also funding to meet the state patrol's request for body cameras and funding for trooper pay raises..

Also included is $15 million to protect children at school bus stops by equipping Minnesota school buses with outward-facing cameras to catch stop-arm violators.  This provision would likely make Minnesota the first state in the nation to install cameras in all it's buses.  The bill also provides $7 million for the successful Safe Routes to Schools program, which aims to improve student safety and reduce traffic near schools.

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