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Dan Sparks: Working for the bonding priorities for Albert Lea

Senate Report by Dan Sparks

Dan Sparks

 

The biggest priority of the 2020 legislative session remains putting together a robust bonding bill. This bill would invest in infrastructure needs throughout the state and fund shovel-ready projects. This includes our colleges and universities, roads and bridges, and other economic development projects in every corner of Minnesota.

Now is an especially good time for the state to pass a bonding bill. According to the Minnesota Management and Budget Office, Minnesota has a $3.5 billion bonding capacity. Together with low interest rates and our AAA bond rating, we have the potential to make a meaningful investment. While we cannot fund every one of the more than $5 billion in bonding requests that were made, we should aim high.

Our area’s bonding priorities were the topic of discussion in meetings I had this week with Albert Lea city officials. There are three projects that I am working to get included in a final bill that I believe deserve strong consideration for bonding dollars.

One of these is the Main Street flood mitigation project, which would address persistent flooding issues facing the most trafficked street in Albert Lea. With bonding money, the street could be raised above flood levels, have large storm water pumps installed to keep flood levels lower than the roadway or a combination of both.

The two other projects are ones that have benefited from state funds in the past and would help continue to build Albert Lea’s status as a recreation destination. The first is the Fountain Lake restoration project. Fountain Lake has persistently had issues with high phosphorus levels that we can mitigate using hydraulic dredging. The first two phases of the dredging have been completed, and this funding would address the third and final phase.

The other project is the connection of the Blazing Star State Trail from Albert Lea to Hayward. The Blazing Star Trail is a gem for all of southeastern Minnesota, and its appeal is only increasing for bikers throughout the region, which is why the Department of Natural Resources has made it their No. 1 priority. This project would build a bridge over Albert Lea Lake to connect the trail to Hayward.

We know that the bonding bill will be the major focus in the final weeks of session. It will also require a bipartisan approach, because a bonding bill requires a supermajority of both the House and the Senate. I look forward to working with my colleagues to assemble a final bill that puts the priorities of Minnesotans first.

Dan Sparks represents District 27, which includes all or portions of Dodge, Faribault, Freeborn, Mower and Steele counties in the southeastern part of the state.