The Minnesota House Capital Investment Committee toured the southwest metro Thursday, Oct. 10 as part of its statewide tour to learn about regional public works projects that need state funding.
District 55A Rep. Brad Tabke, D-Shakopee, joined the committee for its Shakopee tour and presentation at Turtle’s Bar and Grill.
City and county staff gave presentations on proposed projects for 2020 they’d like to see included in the 2020 bonding bill. Here were the presented Shakopee projects and their costs:
Minnesota River bank
The land between County Highway 101 and the Minnesota River is rich with culturally-sensitive land, Shakopee City Developer Michael Kerski said, and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux’s three largest native burial grounds lie on this corridor. But because of river flooding and erosion, this historical piece of land is in danger.
“This impacts the oldest cultural resources that are left in Minnesota,” Kerski said.
The city’s sanitary sewers also become inundated with water when the river floods, which means emergency repairs for 40 sanitary sewers would become difficult.
“I lose sleep when the manholes are covered,” Lillehaug said while showing the bond committee the riverbank and areas where problems have occurred.
This spring, the river was flooded for three months and is again starting to hit flood levels, causing concern again, Lillehaug said.
The concept plan for this problem would be to lower the river bank so it floods naturally. This means the Huber Park land along the riverbank would be positioned in a downward slant to allow water levels to rise up and down naturally. When water levels are lower, the river bank will be walkable, and when they are higher, that area would be designated for flooding.
The cost for this project will be in the neighborhood of $11.73 million.
Scott County has made a $17 million bonding request, which is how much it will cost to complete the Merriam Junction Trail project. This trail would convert an old railroad bed into a paved, eight-foot wide trail and connect Carver to the Louisville Swamp, which can only be accessed by pedestrians at the moment. The county already completed a $1 million stretch of this path in 2018.
“If that were built today, it would have significantly more pedestrian connections,” Tabke said.
segment over 169
The city proposed a $3 million project to build a bike bridge overpass over Highway 169 that would connect Shakopee’s Southbridge to Quarry Lake Park and the County Highway 101 trail, opening up more opportunities for bikers to commute to work. Right now, there is only one bridge that allows pedestrians and bikers to safely cross the highway, and it’s a trail underneath the highway on Canterbury Road.
“This will create an easier and safer connection between the north and south side of Highway 169,” Tabke said.
About the requests
Mary Murphy, chair of the House Capital Investment Committee, said the committee generally looks to fund issues involving wastewater and aging infrastructure, and “local things that have no glamour but are absolutely necessary.”
In order for the bonding bill to pass, there must be a super-majority in the House and Senate. In 2019, the Senate never performed a hearing on the bonding bill, so it never passed. This year, with the 2020 election on the horizon, Tabke said the absence of a bonding bill is unlikely to happen.
Minnesota Management and Budget vetted all the proposed projects in May 2019, deeming them eligible or not eligible.
Murphy said she hopes to pass a $3.5 billion bonding bill, because the state has received more than $5 billion in requests.
“And all the requests are legitimate,” Murphy said. “So are we going to just sit here, or are we going to do something about them?”
Murphy said $3.5 billion is the most money the state can take out before its AA bond rating is affected.
Shakopee has never requested grant money from the state, Tabke said, adding he feels a public works grant is long overdue.
“Nothing (proposed in Shakopee) benefits just our community,” Tabke said. “They have a much wider reach.”
Shakopee matches 50% of all state grant requests, Kerski said.