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Bonding proposal funds Nicollet Mall rehab, bus improvements

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: May 5, 2014 - 4:35 PM

Minneapolis' quest this legislative session to secure $25 million in bonding dollars to rehab Nicollet Mall scored a victory Monday morning with the release of Senate legislation.

The Senate bonding bill provides $20 million for the project to redesign the mall, expected to cost about $53 million. That's equal to the governor's $20 million proposal, but far more than the $4.5 million offered by House bonding chair Rep. Alice Hausman.

UPDATE: A revised House bonding bill released Monday also provides $20 million for Nicollet Mall renovations.

The Nicollet Mall project is a top priority for city officials, who have been lobbying legislative leaders to support a revitalization of the city's most iconic street. The mall hasn't had a major facelift since the 1980s.

Securing the Nicollet Mall dollars remains uncertain, however. Both bodies must pass their respective bills, which must then be reconciled before being signed by Gov. Mark Dayton. In that process, the money for Nicollet could be substantially reduced.

The plan calls for a public-private partnership to pay for the project, with roughly half of the dollars coming from an assessment on downtown property owners.

Another major Minneapolis project in the Senate bill was the Minneapolis sculpture garden, which would receive $8.5 million (the governor recommended $7 million). The garden is sinking into a creek bed.

UPDATE: A revised House bonding bill released Monday provides $8 million to the scupture garden renovation.

The Senate bonding bill also included $10 million for arterial bus rapid transit in the metro area. Referred to as aBRT, the Metropolitan Council plan involves overhauling several bus routes to include pre-payment, fewer stops and shelters with real-time arrival information. Dayton provided $10 million for aBRT in his proposal, but it was not featured in the House bill.

Dayton had supported $7 million for the I-35W bus rapid transit project, but it was not included in the House or Senate bills.

Not included in the Senate bill was $7 million for the I-35W bus rapid transit line, supported by Dayton.

But the Senate bill did provide $1 million to continue preparation work on the Bottineau light rail transit line, which would run from downtown into the northern suburbs. Dayton did not include dollars for Bottineau.

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