MANKATO — The Mankato City Council and Blue Earth County Board are going in different directions when prioritizing the next big road extension in the Mankato area, and officials in Washington, D.C., will decide which — if either — is worthy of millions of federal dollars.
The council last week authorized City Manager Pat Hentges to apply for $12 million in federal transportation funds for the extension of Adams Street to the east, and the County Board this week gave Public Works Director Al Forsberg the go-ahead to seek nearly $5.9 million to extend and expand County Road 12 to the south.
Odds are against either project winning one of the highly sought-after TIGER grants. But because Congress specifically required that the grants be scattered geographically, it's all-but-certain that if the city wins the county won't and vice-versa.
"It's pretty much guaranteeing that both would not (be funded)," Hentges said of the grant program's rules. "To a large degree, they're competing."
Hentges indicated that he would have preferred that the city and county be in agreement when seeking federal funds and said that a mandated transportation plan for the Mankato metropolitan area, currently in its early stages, should help area governments settle on a priority list of projects in the future.
"It does hurt us a little bit that we're both competing for a limited pot of dollars," he said.
Forsberg, however, downplayed the idea that the two projects are in competition and suggested the region will be a winner if either of the roads are funded.
"By our area throwing more than one hat in the ring, it increases the chances of one of those hats being funded," he said. "... They're both good projects. They're both needed."
Forsberg has been encouraging the board to prepare the County Road 12 project for construction, including completing environmental reviews and preliminary designs, in case the federal funding is provided. The road will open up the area on Mankato's southeast side for development, provide a key north-south route from the airport to Highway 83 and ease traffic congestion on Highway 22, according to Forsberg.