Minnesota’s legislature voted to not confirm Lt. Governor Carol Molnau as Commissioner of the Department of Transportation. The vote does not affect her position as lieutenant governor. The legislature has never confirmed Molnau after Gov. Tim Pawlenty named Bob McFarlin as interim commissioner and will name a permanent commissioner very soon. McFarlin was the assistant to the commissioner.
Borrowing bill provides funding to key projects, stimulates jobs
The Minnesota Senate passed the $1.1-billion state borrowing bill 51 – 7 on March 4 with little debate while the House version continues to work through committees. Most of the funds will be used on construction projects and to stimulate jobs. Democrats said this bill comes at the best time for struggling contractors interested in bidding for state work and for taxpayers worried about a declining economy.
Key provisions of the Senate version include projects at the University of Minnesota, including a science center; $200 million for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities; $70 million for Central Corridor Light Rail Transit; $40 million for Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center; $22 million for Bemidji regional events center; and $30 million for public infrastructure in Itasca County to support Minnesota Steel’s expansion.
More work will be needed to decrease the debt amount in the bill to an acceptable level, according the governor’s office. Traditionally, Minnesota’s bonding debt does not exceed 3 percent of the state’s general fund spending.
Crews speed up bridge work to meet schedule
Piers are rising to their full height on both sides of the Mississippi River. This week crews are using a concrete crusher to break up pieces of the old roadway to be reused in the base of the new I-35W roadway.
The new I-35W bridge is progressing rapidly. This view looks from the south side, where crews continue to build Abutment 1 and Pier 2, to the north side where piers are rising to their full height. Photo courtesy of FIGG Bridge Engineering.
The pile installation and concrete crush will be ongoing between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. and generate much noise.
Also scheduled for the week of March 3 are pouring the top of columns at Pier 2 southbound; placing rebar in the forms for the side spans on the south side; building supports for the side spans on the north side; and pouring lifts of the columns at Pier 3 northbound and Pier 4 southbound.
In the casting yard, night shift began for crews to pour one segment a day inside the enclosed heated shelters. Currently seven segments have been poured; 120 segments are needed for the bridge’s main span.
Construction progress facts
Contractors have poured approximately one-third of the 48,700 cubic yards of concrete needed for the bridge. Cemstone, a Midwest concrete manufacturer, is supplying all of the concrete for the bridge.
- Currently, about 400 of the projected 650 workers needed to build the bridge are on the job.
- In January, workers logged 22,065 hours of work; in February, worker hours increased to 41,000.