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State gives $12.5 million to small communities for roads

Mavis Fodness

Each Minnesota community smaller than 5,000 residents will split $12.5 million for city street repairs, thanks to the Small Cities Assistance Bill passed during the recently completed Legislative session.
The one-time funding is in lieu of a transportation bill that earmarks funds for road repairs in townships, cities larger than 5,000 residents, counties and state-aid highways.
Cities with fewer than 5,000 residents receive road repair funds through a portion of their county funds, an amount that has dwindled each funding cycle, said Carolyn Jackson with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities.
“This (directly) gives small cities some money for city streets,” she said.
Each community in Rock County will receive funds this year, the first payments arriving this week.
The announcement came as the city of Hardwick decided to spend roughly $12,000 to fix more than 3,300 square feet of potholes on its city streets.
Action taken at the July 9 meeting authorized Shawn Staples of Southwest Sealcoating in Hardwick to fill the numerous potholes that dot each street. Council members questioned if the holes could be repaired in preparation for possible sealcoating next year.
“I just looked at the worst of the worst,” Staples said. “Given the condition the streets are in … I cannot give any guarantees.”
One such location, Staples pointed out, was on South Prospect Street where the area is too large for Staples to patch by hand.
“We have to do something with our streets,” said member Carey Tunnissen. “We have gone too long.”
Work is scheduled to begin in early August.
Hardwick will receive $9,020 through the Small Cities Assistance Bill.
Other Rock County communities and the amounts they will receive are: Luverne $54,275, Hills $14,424; Steen $9,299; Magnolia $8,069; and Kenneth $7,274.
The funding amounts are based on population and lane miles within each community. Minimally, communities would receive $5,100 with the largest amount at $62,000.
There are 706 cities in Minnesota with fewer than 5,000 residents.
Jackson said efforts are in place to lobby for the assistance bill to become a continual funding stream for small city streets.

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