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Riverland a part of Dayton’s bonding proposal

Blazing Star Trail, Landing requests not included

Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed $1.5 billion public works package unveiled Tuesday includes more than $6 million to Riverland to relocate truck driving and collision programs from Austin to Albert Lea and to integrate the programs into shared spaces with auto diesel programs.

Dayton’s support for the project comes after Riverland requested $10.1 million for the project this year. The college hopes to demolish the Gateway Building and construct 7,482 square feet in additional space.

Albert Lea bonding requests to develop Blazing Star Landing and for a bridge over Albert Lea Lake that would connect the Blazing Star Trail from Myre-Big Island State Park to Hayward were not included in Dayton’s bonding bill, but the projects are more than 130 across the state that Dayton is open to receiving funding. 

“Though not part of his public works bill, the governor believes these projects merit state investments, and he looks forward to working with the Legislature to include many of them in a final bill during the 2018 legislative session,” according to a state press release.

Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams said he plans to work with local legislators and other leadership and hopes there are positive results by the end of the legislative session.

District 27A Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, said she “is very happy” the Riverland project is included in the governor’s bonding bill, adding she hopes Blazing Star Landing and Blazing Star Trail projects are funded as well.

Bennett said realistically neither of the two other projects will be funded this year, noting if there was a project that would receive funding this year it would be Blazing Star Trail work because it is less expensive and less complicated than Blazing Star Landing development.

“It’s been a long time,” she said of how long local representatives have wanted Blazing Star Trail work to be complete. “It’s over 20 years now that it’s been in the works.”

Bennett said Riverland work will bring cost efficiencies and help people.

“I think Riverland’s project is excellent and a good example of what we should be bonding for,” she said.

Bennett anticipates House and Senate bonding proposals will have a lower cost than Dayton’s plan. 

Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans described Dayton’s proposal as important for the long-term economic health of the state.

In a press release following the announced, Dave Smiglewski, Coalition for Greater Minnesota Cities president and Granite Falls mayor, called it “promising” that Dayton’s proposal included $167 million for clean water infrastructure programs. 

“Clean water is a vital part of a healthy community, yet wastewater and drinking water facilities throughout the state are aging and in dire need of extensive repairs and upgrades,” Smiglewski said. “Cities are facing astronomical costs, and many simply cannot afford to make these needed infrastructure improvements without assistance from the state.

“We are pleased to see that Gov. Dayton’s bonding plan recognizes this need.”

Smiglewski said clean water infrastructure grant and loans programs “have consistently received bipartisan support at the Legislature, and we are hopeful that will continue in 2018.”

“As we move into the legislative session, we hope the governor and Legislature will be able to put their squabbles aside and pass a bonding bill that promotes economic development, strong infrastructure and thriving communities,” he said. 

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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