Shutdown 2011 Category Archive: Roads

Counties cope with effects of state shutdown

Posted at 10:00 AM on July 7, 2011 by Catharine Richert (0 Comments)
Filed under: Cities, Counties, Roads

20110517_centralcorridor3_39.jpgYesterday, MPR's Dan Olson took a look at how the state's two most populous counties, Hennepin and Ramsey, are coping with the government shutdown.

The short story: so far, OK.

According to Olson's report, neither county has been forced to let workers go, though Hennepin County did notify about 1,200 of its 7,500 employees that they may be laid off at some point.

In both counties, road construction continues, including the Central Corridor rail line between Minneapolis and St. Paul, as do county-administered services including child protection.

Still, city and county officials are most concerned about getting a state aid payment due this month that will allow them to continue offering many services without tapping reserves.

Olson writes,

Many county services are mandated by state laws and regulations. Counties rely on two checks a year from the state, called county program aid, to help pay the costs, according to Mark Stenglein, vice chairman of the Hennepin County Board.

Stenglein says it appears likely -- but not certain -- at this point that Hennepin County's next program aid check will arrive next week. It should amount to between $10 million and 14 million, depending on budget negotiations.

"Probationary services to watch offenders, or mental health services the state mandates we have to do, and they pay for it, but it's in question now and our check is due from the state," Stenglein said. "Minus that, that leaves us only to backfill it from our own property taxes."

Read Olson's entire story here.

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Transportation reporter Dan Olson on the shutdown

Posted at 9:26 AM on July 1, 2011 by Jon Gordon (0 Comments)
Filed under: Roads

Q: What's happening with construction in the state?

Olson: Construction is suspended. Some congestion is caused when construction sites are up and running because of gawker slowdown, but there won't be any work to gawk at this morning. MnDOT says work stops at all of them, more than 100 around the state. Then there's a ripple effect because MnDOT works with cities and counties on their projects, so work at those sites is also suspended.

Q: What are some of the projects that have stopped?

Olson: This one along Interstate 94 between Minneapolis and St. Paul, then there's the Highway 169 and Interstate 494 project in the southwest metro. Another is the Lafayette Bridge replacement in St. Paul and the new 101 and Highway 13 interchange in Savage. Then the Highway 36 and Rice Street interchange in St. Paul. In greater Minnesota one of the bigger impacts is suspension of work on Interstate 35 from the northern Twin Cities suburbs up to Duluth.

Q: Have barricades been removed from these sites so you can get through faster?

Olson: Construction crews were supposed to leave work sites in the best condition possible for traffic movement. So that means in some places more lanes are open, but it depends what stage construction is at.

Q: What are some things that normally help commuters that aren't operating today?

Olson: First response trucks that help motorists stopped along the road aren't out there, ramp meters and traffic cameras aren't working, and the MnDOT online traffic map is down. MnPass users who use the fast lanes for a fee won't be able to, because that service is down. The high occupancy lanes are open to car poolers and motorcycles.

Q: For the construction work, what happens to the money for all this?

Olson: It was going to be a big season, and the governor said even more money would go for potholes and other problems. Construction contractors say the delays will cost money. They'll charge mobilizing and de-mobilizing fees. It gets a little lawyerly here, but that's for moving equipment on and off the site. If this drags on, contractors might go off to other states to seek work, and there might be further delays from suppliers.

Q: Can these delays be made up or do construction project get pushed into next season?

Olson: MnDOT can ask contractors to accelerate their work, but that costs extra, and a longer delay pushes things back. MnDOT has suspended awarding new contracts for at least next month so that could delay things considerably.

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