The Minnesota Senate passed legislation March 4 that fixes a small technical glitch in the 2018 bonding bill that potentially could have delayed several important area public works projects. The bill, which passed with wide bipartisan support, was signed into law March 5 by Governor Tim Walz.

“We can now proceed with certainty on the important area projects funded in the bonding bill,” said District 16 Sen. Gary Dahms of Redwood Falls. “Passing these needed fixes was a true bipartisan effort and marks a big step forward. The projects from wastewater treatment to highway expansion affect thousands of southwestern Minnesota residents every day. It’s about time the legislature came to agreement and got this done.”

The legislation addresses a small technicality in the bonding bill signed into law last year, which could have prevented certain projects from moving forward.

Several area projects included in last year’s bonding bill are enabled to receive funding by this legislation including the Lake Redwood reclamation, upgrades to wastewater treatment facilities in Marshall, Wood Lake and Dawson, connecting Clarkfield to the Lincoln Pipestone Rural Water System and the completion of the four-lane expansion on Highway 23 from Willmar to St. Cloud.

The bill changes the funding source to allow projects to move forward without delay. While the legislation does not specifically name these projects, they are in line to receive funding through the public facilities authority’s point source implementation grant program as well as the water infrastructure funding program.

“After a lengthy delay, we’ve gotten this right. I’m looking forward to seeing these projects move forward,” said Dahms. 

Keith Muetzel, Redwood Falls city administrator, shared the news with the Redwood Falls city council at its March 5 meeting, adding the city can now pick up where it left off prior to it putting the process on hold.

A lawsuit had been filed by several environmental groups that had indicated a concern with the funding process being used to cover the costs of the projects including the effort to reclaim Lake Redwood.

The city is going to be working in conjunction with the Redwood-Cottonwood Rivers Control Area (RCRCA) group as the process moves forward.

Those next steps include doing the design work, developing the project specifications and putting together the project bid documents.

City council member Larry Arentson asked if the process would be delayed because it had been put on hold.

According to Jim Doering, city public works project coordinator, the slowing down of the process will likely now mean delays, adding he assumes that it will probably be another year before the work can begin on the reclamation.

Yet, he added, despite that delay the good news is it looks as if this ought to mean the end of the lawsuit. Had that process continued that could have meant an even longer delay in the project had the lawsuit been able to proceed.

Tom Quackenbush, city mayor, said the news about Lake Redwood was exciting, adding it will be a very good thing for the community.