How federal transportation dollars will be spent in Duluth…4 years from now

Although it fluctuates from year to year, about $8 million – on average– of federal transportation assistance comes in to the Duluth area.  Of that amount, approximately $6 million is allocated for MnDOT projects, and $2 million goes to county and city projects.

Each year several new transportation improvement projects are proposed by these jurisdictions, for four years in advance.  This allows the time needed to do the planning and engineering work before they can be implemented.

This year, five projects are being proposed to utilize the $8 million in federal funding estimated to be available in year 2019.  These projects and their estimated costs are listed below.

Because federal funding is public money, the public has the right for their comments to be recorded and reported on these projects.  Look the projects over – do you have anything to say about them?    

E9th225pxE 8th Street/E 9th Street – Pavement Preservation
A mill and overlay of the existing pavement on the 1.6 miles of E 8th Street/E 9th Street between 6th Avenue E and Woodland Avenue.  Repairs to storm water, curb and gutter, and sidewalk will also be part of this project.
Jurisdiction: City of Duluth
Project Cost:  $1,300,000 ($860,000 federal funds; $440,000 local funds)

MapleGrove225pxMaple Grove Road – Pavement Preservation
A mill and overlay of 3.5 miles of Maple Grove Road from Midway Road to Westberg Road.  The project will include intersection improvements at Midway Road and at LaVaque Road.
Jurisdiction: St. Louis County
Project Cost:  $2,000,000 ($1,600,000 federal funds; $400,000 local funds)

McCuen150pxMcCuen Street (State Highway 39) – Pavement Preservation
Resurfacing of 1 mile of highway from State Highway 23 to the Oliver Bridge.
Jurisdiction: MnDOT District 1
Project Cost:  $900,000 ($720,000 federal funds; $180,000 state funds)

 

MesabiBridge150pxMesaba Ave, Bridge # 6544 – Bridge Repainting (Preservation)
Repainting of the understructure of the bridge over Superior Street in Downtown Duluth.
Jurisdiction: MnDOT District 1
Project Cost:  $1,500,000 ($1,200,000 federal funds; $300,000 state funds)  

 

Blatnik150pxBlatnik Bridge – Bridge Repainting (Preservation)
Repainting the superstructure of the I-535 bridge over St. Louis Bay.  This project includes a cost-share with WisDOT.
Jurisdiction: MnDOT District 1
Project Cost:  $8,260,000 ($3,717,000 federal funds; $413,000 MnDOT funds; $4,130,000 WisDOT funds)

 

You may have noticed that what these projects have in common is preservation of existing roads and bridges.  This is a trend that will continue as transportation funding becomes more scarce. In our area (and throughout the state) we will be seeing very little new construction in the coming years.

More information about the Duluth Area TIP (Transportation Improvement Program) and the projects being proposed for 2019 can be found on the MIC’s website at www.dsmic.org.

Meanwhile, if you have any opinions about these proposed projects, we welcome your comments.

What do YOU Think about These Projects?

We say it on OpenMIC every year…View of Mesaba Ave TIP project -location of 2017 roadway improvement

“As the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for this area, it is our job to work with local communities to determine how the federal transportation dollars that come to our area get spent.”

We are now finalizing the roster of local transportation projects that are slated to receive federal funding.  This list is called the “TIP” (Transportation Improvement Program) and it lines up projects for the coming four years.  As projects in the current year get built, we add new ones to the outer year.

This time around, the outer year is 2017, and these projects are the projects we’re adding:

  •  Resurfacing of Mesaba Avenue (I-35 to Central Entrance) – $2.1 million.
  •  Resurfacing of E 4th Street (from 6th Ave. E to Wallace Ave.) – $3.4 million.
  •  3 STRIDE Buses for the DTA – $200 thousand

Location of 2017 Rodway Improvement ProjectAs you can see –due in large part to a decrease in the federal funds now available–only two roadway improvement projects and a few new buses to the DTA’s special-needs STRIDE fleet can be programmed for 2017.

 Your Priorities?

These projects were evaluated and prioritized by the MIC’s Transportation Advisory Committee and recommended by the MIC Policy Board.

These decisions, however, also need to consider the public’s input, so we are asking you: are these the three projects you would have funded?  Since they have been chosen for inclusion in the TIP, is there anything you might have to say about these specific projects?

 View the Draft DocumentThree more STRIDE buses to be funded in the 2017 Duluth TIP

You can learn more details about these projects, as well as those lined up for years 2014, 2015, and 2016 from the draft TIP document, which is available for public review from now until August 21st .

 Talk to Us in Person

Or, you can ask us questions directly by calling (218-529-7573).  You are also invited to stop by our office during one of the TIP open houses scheduled for 7am-5pm on Thursday, July 18th and Friday, July 19th The place: 221 W First St., downtown Duluth, second floor.

Or, you can leave a comment at the end of this post.  As we let you know on OpenMIC every year…

There are three ways to have your say.

 

The New Normal?

As the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for this area, it’s our job to work with local jurisdictions to identify, plan for and program how federal transportation funds get used in the region.  We’re already working to line up funding for construction projects that won’t begin until 2017.

Those funds, not surprisingly, have become a lot more scarce.

Last year, as part of developing the TIP, (Transportation Improvement Program), a document that allows Duluth Area communities to use federal transportation dollars, we were talking about divvying up about $7.5 million in federal highway transportation funds for local roadway projects throughout Northeast Minnesota.

This year, the funding allocation for the same area is about $5 million.  Of that amount, $2.1 will go for projects to improve roads and transit services throughout Duluth, Hermantown and Proctor.

Spending to Meet Performance Goals

So, working within the “new normal” of funding restraints, it’s more important than ever to decide on projects that will fix critical maintenance needs.  (Not to mention, new construction is pretty much off the table). These federal dollars do have strings attached: they need to be spent on projects that will meet performance goals, i.e., to improve safety and traffic flow, in measurable ways.

Every year, jurisdictions in the Duluth metro (the Cities of Duluth and Hermantown as well as St. Louis County) tell us which projects they’d like to use federal funds for and we work with our Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and Policy Board to decide which ones are the most important.

We Want to Hear from You

Transportation projects are public facilities and services funded with taxpayer dollars, and therefore local citizens have a right to weigh in on such decisions, along with the planners, engineers and elected officials.

This year, the following transportation projects are being proposed by the City of Duluth, St. Louis County and the Duluth Transit Authority for our area:

  • Mesaba Ave Repairs – Concrete and joint repairs from Central Entrance to I-35 and repairs to bridges over Superior Street and 2nd Ave West
  • East 4th Street Repairs – Mill & overlay, safety improvements and ADA improvements (pedestrian ramps) from 6th Avenue East to Wallace Avenue
  • DTA STRIDE Buses – Purchase of three STRIDE replacement buses to maintain existing fleet to safety, comfort, and efficiency standards

Do you have any opinions

…about the importance of these proposed projects to our area?

Talk to Us – Online, In Person or by Phone:

  1. Make a comment, below,  or
  2. Stop by our office at 221 West First Street, ARDC entrance on the Skywalk level, or
  3. Call me with questions or comments–Robert Herling at (218) 529-7573.

Although it’s only March 2013, NOW is the time to give us your input on these proposed projects before funding decisions are made for 2017.

You have three ways to let us know.

Oh, that “TIP” thing again.

Yup.  Summer is finally once again upon us, and in the world of transportation planning that means two things: heeere comes construction season… and that “TIP” thing where we line up projects for the next four construction seasons.

TIP stands for Transportation Improvement Program.  It’s an annually-updated document that allows Duluth Area communities to apply federal transportation funds to specific transportation projects.

For those of you who are policy-people or transportation wonks, the TIP document describes all the policies and processes involved.

But for those of you who are just interested in what local and regional projects are being planned for 2013 through 2016 (the big ones that use federal funds), they’re summarized by year in the project tables starting on page 8 of the draft TIP document.

But here’s just a few that might interest you:

  • City of Duluth – Connecting the Munger Trail to the Lakewalk (a.k.a. the Cross City Trail)
  • St. Louis County – Reconstruction of Haines Road (from W 8th St to Morris Thomas Rd)
  • Hermantown – Reconstruction of Stebner Road (from Maple Grove Rd to Hwy 53)

And if anything prompts you to ask questions, or causes a desire to comment, please do!

Tuesday, May 29th will be the start of an official public comment period that will last until Wednesday, June 27th.  The Duluth-Superior MIC encourages anyone interested in providing their input on the TIP or its projects to comment here or to contact us.

The MIC also plans to hold two “TIP Open House” hours from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 28th and Friday, June 29th.  This is a great opportunity to come visit us, look over some maps, and talk to staff in person about transportation projects in the area.

Three Ways to Have Your Say

MIC Planner James Gittemeier discussing TIP projects with a resident of Duluth, MNAs the MPO for Duluth-Superior metro area, it’s our role to work with local jurisdictions to identify, plan for and program how federal transportation funds get used in the region.

Since transportation projects can be big, expensive, and time-sensitive (i.e. they need to be coordinated with adjacent infrastructure projects), they need to be planned for in advance – we’re already working to line up funding for construction projects that won’t begin until four years from now.

We are part of a process that is now underway to divvy up about $40 million in federal highway transportation funds for projects throughout the Arrowhead and Northeast Minnesota for 2016.

$40 Million Might Seem Like a Lot, But…

A mile of roadway can cost almost a million bucks to repair.  Now consider that the Duluth-Superior area alone has more than 350 miles of roads eligible for federal funds and, well, you get the picture. There are a lot more maintenance and construction needs than money to go around.

So, not every project can receive federal funding.  That’s where the MIC’s prioritization process comes in.

Every year, jurisdictions in the Duluth metro tell us which projects they’d like to use federal funds for and we work with our Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and Policy Board to decide which ones are the most important for meeting the current and future needs of our transportation system.

We Want to Hear from You

Road projects are a public good paid for with taxpayer money, and therefore the local citizens have a right to weigh in on such decisions, along with planners, engineers and elected officials.

This year, the following transportation projects will be prioritized for our area.  All of them are intended to use your gas tax dollars to improve the region’s transportation system.

Do you have any opinions about which are more important to our area?  How would you rank these proposed projects if only 2 or 3 could be chosen?

  • Joshua Ave Construction – City of Duluth
  • Stebner Rd Reconstruction – City of Hermantown
  • Arlington Rd Resurfacing – St. Louis County
  • Trunk Highway 23 Rehabilitation & Replacement of Kingsbury Creek Bridge – MnDOT
  • US Highway 53 Resurfacing– MnDOT

Talk to Us – Online, In Person or by Phone

 

1)      Make a comment, below,  or

2)      Stop by and visit our informational display on

  • Wednesday, January 11 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the Skywalk level of the Holiday Center in downtown Duluth, or

3)      Call me with questions or comments–Robert Herling at (218) 529-7573.

Although it’s only January 2012, NOW is the time to give us your input on these proposed projects before funding decisions are made for 2016.  You have three ways to let us know.