The Minnesota Legislature opened its 2008 session on Tuesday, February 12, with big plans to raise Minnesota taxes that will be designated for repairs of roads and bridges, increase transportation, add to outdoor and environmental activities, and raise education to higher levels.
The state’s deficit, however, is projected at $373 million by the end of this month, and House Speaker Margaret Kelliher said she expects the deficit to be closer to $800 million when the economic forecast is released.
Democrats propose new list of taxes
Democrats proposed a list of transportation initiatives that would raise taxes through a new gas tax, increase in license tab fees, and a levy on transit. Republicans criticized the various taxes saying more money would have to come from the average Minnesotan.
In his State of the State address on February 13, Gov. Tim Pawlenty urged legislators to work cooperatively across party lines to improve the state’s transportation system and said he would veto any taxes and additional spending. He insisted that proposed funding for road and bridge projects come from bonding and warned Democrats not to delete that from the bill.
Pawlenty also wants to create a tax reform commission to redesign Minnesota’s tax laws to spur job growth but did not offer a specific plan to address a deficit economy.
Left: A barge on the
Main bridge shafts completed; piers taking shape
All of the drilled shafts and piles for the main bridge are now complete; however, drilling will continue on the north side of the Mississippi River for the Second Street Bridge until the shafts are completed.
Forms for Pier 2 on the south side were moved onto their footing and filled with concrete. This pier will reach its full 70-foot height after another pour. At Pier 4, crews poured concrete for the southbound footing and formed rebar for the northbound columns that are now at their full height.
Crews have been excavating around Abutment 5 to prepare for pouring the footing this week.
After a successful casting of the first segment of the bridge’s main span, crews poured three more segments last week in three of the four heated sheds north of Washington Avenue.
By the end of February, all four sheds will be used to cast an average of one segment a day until all 120 segments are finished.
Below: At Pier 3, crews poured concrete for the southbound footing and columns.
On the river, a barge collected dredging material to be tested in preparation for setting up a ringer crane that will lift precast segments into place for the bridge’s main span.
More media arrive to cover construction
As the casting process continues, motorists are asked to stay out of the on-ramp to I-35W northbound. Trucks will enter the site to deliver materials using the ramp, and an attendant in high-visibility safety gear will be at the gate to help direct traffic.
In addition to the different ways to access the construction progress, on Monday, February 11, WCCO-AM radio interviewed Jon Chiglo, the Minnesota Department of Transportation project manager, for construction updates. Popular Mechanics and “Nova” sent camera crews to the site last week to film scenes that will be included in the magazine and program.