St. Peter 169 median
Jenny Malmanger
The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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The Highway 169 reconstruction project through St. Peter was the big benefactor in the area from federal stimulus money.

The project will get $11 million and construction will begin this spring.

It is one of 60 transportation projects in greater Minnesota that will get funding from the federal stimulus package. Gov. Tim Pawlenty stopped at the Mankato airport Wednesday as he traveled around the outstate to announce the projects.

Pawlenty said $180 million will go toward the projects, which are expected to create about 5,000 jobs.

Another $180 million will go to metro area projects, which will be announced next month.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation project on Highway 169 (Minnesota Avenue) through St. Peter is aimed at rebuilding the highway and adding safety improvements for pedestrians and vehicles.

A concrete road will be built from south Highway 22 to Broadway Avenue. Bituminous pavement will be put down from Broadway Avenue to Union Street.

The most salient and visible aspect will be the raised medians in the heart of the business district.

The project also calls for pedestrian bump-outs, median landscaping, road reconstruction and overlay, and utility replacement.

The other big project in the Mankato MnDOT region is work on I90 from Alden to Albert Lea, which will get $14 million.

Pawlenty, who has been critical of the stimulus bill, said the transportation projects are worthy of funding.

“These are the kinds of projects we should have seen more of in the stimulus bill. Not all the other stuff,” Pawlenty said.

The Minnesota DFL Party released a statement from Chairman Brian Melendez criticizing Pawlenty saying he opposed and vetoed major transportation funding in the past. “With the worst record of any governor in modern history of maintaining Minnesota’s roads and bridges, Pawlenty is suddenly concerned that we’re not doing enough for transportation,” the statement said.

The ongoing construction of Highway 14 into a four-lane was not given added funding through the stimulus bill. MnDOT officials said the stimulus money needs to go to projects that are “shovel ready” and the next phase of the Highway 14 project — from Owatonna to Dodge Center — isn’t ready to go this spring.

“That project from Owatonna to Dodge Center will get done,” Pawlenty said. “It just didn’t fit here.”

Greg Ous, assistant district engineer for MnDOT, said the $19 million for the Mankato district is significant. “It almost doubles the amount we’d get from the federal government normally over two years.

“It’s quite a boost.”

For more stories on local stimulus projects, see the Thursday, Feb. 26, print edition of The Free Press or sign onto our e-edition.

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