After the Legislature passed $160 million in trunk highway bonds to complete the Owatonna to Dodge Center project last year, Minnesota Management and Budget identified an issue with the bonding language that could delay construction by up to three years. While it was the Legislature’s intent to give MnDOT the flexibility to construct Corridors of Commerce projects when each project was ready to go, the language of the bill complicated matters. Although MnDOT could be ready to start work on Highway 14 as soon as 2019, the state agencies determined that unless the Legislature adopted clarifying legislation, the bonds to fund the project could not be sold by the state until 2022.
Today, a bill to address the issue took its first step in the Senate. SF 1093 was heard in the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee. The bill is chief-authored by Senate Transportation Chair Scott Newman as a technical correction to the bonds passed last year. If this technical fix is passed into law, MnDOT will be able to start preparation work for the project this year and begin construction in 2020. If the Legislature does not act, construction will have to wait until 2022.
The bill passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee this morning. It heads to the Senate Finance Committee next, and then to the Senate floor to be voted on by the whole body.
A House counterpart to this legislation could be introduced as soon as this week.