4/18/2013 10:13:00 AM County may need to help fund overpass
By Paul Martin
Goodhue County Public Works Director Greg Isakson had unwelcome news for the Board at its April 16 meeting.
"I talked with MnDOT (Minnesota Department of Transportation) officials last week, and they will require us to put in 20% of the cost of an overpass at the Hwy 52/9 junction," he said. CIMS, a recently announced State program, will put $30 million into improvements for major traffic corridors in the state. Goodhue County hopes the project will be one of those to get the nod.
Isakson continued, "Because we have not had time to do a full study, and applications must be in by the end of April, we can't yet be sure of the cost. It is possible a figure of $11 million may be closer than my first guess of $8 million. That could make our contribution $2,200,000. The problem with the grant is that, if we get it, we have to do the work. So I have to ask: Are you, as a Board, ready to make a commitment without a dollar figure attached?"
"Why aren't you
Commissioner Ron Allen responded at once, "I will make a motion. This is priority #1 for transportation in this county."
Commissioner Jim Bryant seconded, saying "100 or more people at the meeting last week at Urland were all asking for an interchange. We don't just want this crossing, we need it. I am frustrated by the lack of cooperation from our legislators, other local counties, and the Federal Government. We are now committing to put up to $2.2 million of our County tax dollars to fix a Federal highway. That is not right. I urge people to call or write to their legislators and Congress representative and ask them, "Why aren't you funding this?"
Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel also spoke of the extent of concern in the area. "People who have not called me before in nine years are calling to ask, 'How can we help with this?' I don't see how people can accept a 20-mile stretch of highway from Zumbrota to Cannon Falls without a safe crossing. We should do it now, before more people are killed, and anger builds even more."
The Board all believe that MnDOT's proposed solution will not do enough, and, like the electronic signs at the crossing, will just be money wasted. Commissioner Rich Samuelson, for instance, believes there will be no acceleration lane for trucks and other traffic turning right on Hwy 52 from eastbound Hwy 9. The motion to apply for CIMS money for a full overpass passed by five to none.
Kuester wins Award
for Work against
There was warm applause for Erin Kuester of the County Attorney's Office, who has received a state-wide award for her work in combating sexual violence. The AWARE award recognizes Kuester for her work in three areas as a member of MNCASA (Minnesota Coalition against Sexual Assault).
Access to Justice for Victims sees her working with state legislators and committees as they frame laws and policies in Minnesota. "For example," said Kuester, "we worked to make it easier for a woman to get out of her lease without penalty if she is the victim of abuse by a landlord or neighbor." Sexual Violence Prevention involves getting grants and resources, especially for child victims. Victim Service finds funding statewide to help victims find counseling, support groups and literature.
In addition, Kuester is the main prosecutor in cases of sexual assault in Goodhue County. "I worked with her for years while still a Police Officer," said Bryant. "She's good! Victims know they have a strong advocate."
45 Billion Gallons of Water
The rains come, and the rivers rise at times. In asking the Board to proclaim April 28 to May 5 "Soil and Water Awareness Week," Ed McNamara pointed out just how much soil and water mean to an agricultural county.
"We have 19 watersheds in the County," he said, "and many of them drain a much larger area. The Cannon River drains 946,000 acres, and the Zumbro 1,300,000 acres in five counties. One inch of rain sends over 45 billion gallons through Goodhue County." He urged people, "The further upstream we can retain this water, the more it helps with flood control, aquifer recharge and protecting our infrastructure. Be careful with water use and purity, and volunteer to help clean up our waterways."
Commissioner Rich Samuelson affirmed the important work of the Soil and Water Conservation District, of which McNamara is Treasurer. "We need to take care of our soil, and it will take care of us," said Samuelson from his farming experience.