Congress and the president attached a big string to the federal transportation stimulus dollars. States must commit or obligate half of the funds they receive by June 30.
MnDOT project manager Jon Chiglo said the state agency will oversee $360 million in stimulus money.
"We needed to obligate about $175 million by June 30," Chiglo said. "So by obligating $176 million by the end of last week, we had met that requirement as part of the legislation."
Even better news, Chiglo said, is that by meeting the deadline Minnesota qualifies for funds not used by other states.
Still more good news, he said, is some of the bids for the road and bridge projects are coming in below estimate, helping stretch the dollars.
The Metropolitan Council oversees spending of federal stimulus dollars for Twin Cities area transportation projects. Wednesday, the Met Council gave final approval to 22 of them.
The largest one is $86 million for a 2.5-mile extension of freeway 610 in the northern suburb of Maple Grove.
The recommendations came from the Council's powerful Transportation Advisory Board chaired by Woodbury mayor Bill Hargis.
"It's important to get that money out and spent and invested so it can get people back to work and improve our infrastructure," Hargis said. "That's the direction [the] TAB recommended and the Council concurred in."
The 21 smaller projects approved yesterday by the Met Council include a long-awaited reconstruction in Maplewood of White Bear Avenue.
It's a swirl of numbers, but if you're keeping a scorecard most of the nearly $250 million in stimulus dollars primarily for road and bridge projects in the Twin Cities have been spoken for.
However, not every one has emerged a winner. There are many more projects seeking money than dollars available.
“It's important to get that money out and spent and invested so it can get people back to work and improve our infrastructure.”Woodbury Mayor Bill Hargis
One of those left out in the cold is a nearly $2 million rebuild of Terrace Road, a heavily-used street in the northern Twin Cities suburb of Spring Lake Park.
Mayor Bob Nelson said the city was hoping stimulus dollars would finally finance fixing a two-mile stretch.
"Oh, it's bumpy, full of potholes, we keep filling them, keep filling them, it keeps popping out," Nelson said. "It's probably one of the worst streets we have."
Over in Richfield, a suburb just on the southern border of Minneapolis, Mayor Debbie Goettel is also disappointed.
A proposal for a $21 million extension of 77th Street, under a busy highway, did not qualify for stimulus money.
Goettel said it's too bad because she said the extension would relieve congestion and likely attract redevelopment like that seen along the Hiawatha light-rail line.
"Once you open something like that up, what we've seen already like around Hiawatha is the redevelopment that takes place in these corridors," Goettel said.
Mayors Goettel in Richfield and Nelson in Spring Lake Park, and officials in communities with dozens of other projects that didn't make the stimulus cut, face making do or seeking money from other sources.
Minnesota will receive just over $600 million in federal stimulus dollars for road, bridge and transit projects.
MnDOT's Jon Chiglo said the next deadline is early 2010.
"[On] February 17, a year from the passage of the legislation, we need to have all the funds authorized by that date," Chiglo said.
Chiglo said the first stimulus funded road project kicks off April 30, on a stretch of Interstate 94 in central Minnesota.