This morning, our first stop of the day took us down a narrow road to a bridge that crosses the Red River and connects Minnesota and North Dakota. It was a beautiful morning, but the Mayor of Nielsville, who greeted us at the bridge, had some grim news. The bridge had a several foot-wide hole in the middle of it.
Last year, Moorhead averaged 85 trains passing through the city each day, about 5-7 of those trains each day were carrying oil from North Dakota. By 2040, the number of trains passing through the city is projected to grow to 150 per day. Each day train crossings block city streets between 4 and 8 hours per day.
The Senate Capital Investment Committee hit the road on the first leg of six weeks’ worth of bonding tours. The Sept. 15-17 tour featured more than a dozen stops across Northeast Minnesota including the Duluth Steam Plant, the International Wolf Center, Vermilion Community College and the Soudan Underground Mine State Park. Here’s a summary of project proposals and their requested funds. Click here to see the entire tour summary on Google Sheets.
Today, Senate Bonding Committee members got a true taste of Iron Range history. We kicked off day three of the Northeast Minnesota bonding tour by visiting the Soudan Underground Mine State Park. The Soudan Mine has a very interesting history, it’s the oldest and deepest mine in Minnesota that first started processing iron ore in 1882. In the early 1960’s the mine stopped production and was handed over to the Department of Natural Resources to run as a visitor and learning center.
The Minnesota Senate Capital Investment Committee is heading north beginning on Tuesday, Sept. 29. The tour will stop in Staples and Fergus Falls before arriving in Moorhead on Tuesday afternoon. Stops during the three-day tour will include visits to MSU-Moorhead, the North Country Food Bank in Crookston, Northland Community and Technical College, the IRA Civic Center in Grand Rapids and Itasca State Park. Sen. LeRoy Stumpf (DFL-Plummer), Chair of the Senate Capital Investment Committee says he’s looking forward to bringing committee members to his district.
It was a pleasure to join the Senate Bonding Committee on their first day as they toured several sites in Duluth – and yesterday I got to show them some of the beauty along the North Shore. After hearing about several marina-related needs at towns dotted along Lake Superior, we stopped at Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park. This is one of the newest state parks in Minnesota, which means the Department of Natural Resources is still working on making it more accessible to the public.
As we kick off day two of our Northeast Minnesota bonding tour, I’m still thinking about the huge need for more space we learned about in Rush City at the Department of Corrections facility there. Correctional offers told us all the prisons across the state are full; they reached capacity in July 2013 and have been using county jails to house offenders for the last two years.
It was a beautiful morning in St. Paul today as the Senate Bonding Committee took off on our first three-day bonding tour in the Northeast corner of the state. Like the last major bonding year in 2014, it’s clear the need for bonding dollars will already greatly exceed the amount we can invest. I am particularly interested in looking at projects that require maintenance dollars to fix or repair existing state-owned infrastructure. This could mean repairing a college or university building, a local community center or basic infrastructure like a wastewater treatment facility.