Stimulus: transportation

Minnesota will get about $502 million for roads and infrastructure, and $92 million for mass transit.

As part of the economic stimulus bill, the nation will receive $27.5 billion to improve highways and bridges and more than $8 billion for transit agencies. From these funds, Minnesota will receive about $502 million to pour into road and other infrastructure projects, and another $92 million into mass transit.

Roads and Bridges

Although the overall amount of national transportation funding for roads and bridges went down $2.5 billion, the state received more than the $477 million that was anticipated. The Minnesota Department of Transportation has already developed a âÄúhighway list,âÄù which contains 79 projects that would cost about $520 million. Kevin Gutknecht, Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesperson, said now they have to move quickly to distribute the funds and get contractors started on projects from the list. MnDOT has about 90 days to get their major construction projects off the ground.


The original share proposed for transit agencies in Minnesota was about $104, but that went down to $94 million. Peter Bell, chairman of the Metropolitan Council , said they will be receiving about $70 million for transit operations, much of which will go to dealing with Metro TransitâÄôs $45 million shortfall over the next two years. Bell expects the deficit to grow when the stateâÄôs February budget forecast comes out, which means more money towards maintaining bus systems and less toward new transit projects. âÄúI resist starting transit projects that I donâÄôt have the funds to operate,âÄù Bell said. In order to support the bus systems, the Metropolitan Council wants to invest more than $2 million to replace 10 percent of their existing fleet with hybrid buses to save future costs on fuel. The Central Corridor light-rail will not be seeing any of the stimulus money because it is not a shovel ready project, Bell said. The Central Corridor still needs to get through the National Environmental Policy Act before it can begin any kind of construction. Construction for the project has also been delayed from spring 2010 to late summer next year after Minnesota Public Radio requested the process be halted for further study of noise vibrations on their studios .

High Speed Rail

In a surprising move, Congress added $9.3 billion in the bill for national development of high-speed and intercity rail. Several high speed lines have been proposed in Minnesota, including a line that would connect the Twin Cities to Duluth, and a fast train that would run from Minneapolis to Chicago. Margaret Donahoe, legislative advocate for the Minnesota Public Transit Association, said the increase in high speed transit funding could get these projects off the ground, but Minnesota is not as far in the planning process with their high speed lines as other states, like Wisconsin and Illinois.