East Grand Forks to Swap Federal Road Funding


City administrator David Murphy told city council members on Tuesday August 3 that the Minnesota Department of Transportation could negotiate an agreement between the city and Polk County that would indicate $ 860,000 in federal highway funding. sub-goal ”that would otherwise go to the city in 2022 to a county road project and, in return, $ 750,000 that would otherwise have gone from the federal government to the county in 2023 to the city instead that year. There’s a potential problem, according to Murphy: whether the state is willing or able to bank the $ 110,000 difference between city and county allocations. Earl Haugen, who heads the Metropolitan Planning Organization, a regional clearinghouse for money and infrastructure planning, said this kind of maneuver was possible, Murphy told council members.

This contradicts what Murphy put in a note to board members earlier Tuesday, in which he wrote that an MnDOT planning director believed an exchange was “highly unlikely.” That changed, Murphy said, when county staff told Haugen he had a road project ready for federal grant a year earlier.

City council members informally agreed last week to ask the MnDOT to help East Grand Forks, in effect, delay $ 860,000 in “sub-target” federal funding so that city staff could commission a study needed to put a $ 2.2 million plan to rebuild part of Northeast 10th Street on the front line for that funding. The street passes near an industrial park in the east and is in poor condition.

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“Something we’ve never dealt with before”

East Grand Forks has filed a long-term transportation plan with the planning body, and that plan outlines projects in the area that are eligible for the federal grant. A $ 1.6 million roundabout at the intersection of Bygland Road and Rhinehart Drive in the city’s south is currently included in this plan, but council members and Mayor Steve Gander pumped the brakes on this idea. They ultimately asked city staff to ask the planning body to modify the long-term transportation plan to include the reconstruction of the industrial park road, which would make it eligible for the same funding as the roundabout.

“While we think we are prioritizing something before (the roundabout), that doesn’t mean it’s a bad project,” Gander said on Tuesday. “It just means it might not be our number one need right now.”

But modifying the plan is not a quick process, and the planning organization’s board agreed late last month that it did not have enough information about the park’s road project. industrialist to agree to modify the long-term plan. So, as fiscal and logistical deadlines quickly approached, city leaders agreed to, in effect, try to push back those deadlines so that they could commission the study they would need to satisfy the organization’s board of directors. .

City staff attempted a similar exchange in May with the other three towns in their target subgroup: Bemidji, Thief River Falls and Crookston. Federal money rotates between these four cities every year, which under normal circumstances means that East Grand Forks would be in line for it in 2026. City officials in the three cities were not interested in an exchange with the city, however. East Grand Forks.

“It’s something we’ve never dealt with before,” Murphy told the Herald when asked why the city hadn’t approached the state or county for a fundraising swap after it was rejected by Bemidji et al. “We are not subject matter experts.

Permit, road contract

In related news, board members:

  • Approved permissions for the Church and School of the Sacred Heart to close part of Third Street Northwest for a block party on August 26 and for the Red River Lions Club to hold a raffle on November 18 at a VFW post d ‘Eastside.

  • Awarded a $ 34,000 contract to RJ Zavoral and Sons to repair a section of a front road along Highway 220. Board member Marc DeMers, who works for the company, abstained and did not vote.

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