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Minnesota highway, transit projects getting millions in federal funding

Tom Hauser
Updated: September 16, 2020 06:36 PM
Created: September 16, 2020 06:07 PM

Two major Minnesota highway construction projects will receive millions in federal funding after having success in a competitive bidding process involving projects across the country.

In an exclusive interview with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on Wednesday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the two Minnesota projects were selected from 660 applications from 44 states.

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"One in ten (projects) approximately were awarded this money," Chao said. "So Minnesota... needs to be very, very proud for having won the award for $37 million for two projects in Minnesota."

One project involves $15 million for two new bridges along U.S. Highway 10 near the border of Ramsey and Anoka Counties. The other $22 million will be used to widen U.S. Highway 14 from New Ulm to Nicollet, including replacement of pavement first installed in 1938.

Meanwhile, Chao said the $929 million awarded to the Southwest Light Rail project this week by the Federal Transit Administration isn't necessarily the end of the line for that type of funding, despite a huge drop in ridership during the pandemic.

"We're seeing a double-digit return to mass transit ridership already," she said. "Now that's not saying much given how low mass transit dropped in the depth of COVID-19." Still, she says it's encouraging.

By late June, mass transit ridership in the Twin Cities had dropped 69%, including an 80% drop on light rail. Chao says new COVID-19 safety protocols and an improving economy should help.

"As we adapt to these new times and as consumer confidence levels return I think there will be a return to transit because people need to get to work and they can't all use cars," Chao told KSTP.


Copyright 2020 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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