From science to seals and bus stops to bridges, the $1.1 billion bonding bill passed by the Legislature has a lot to offer Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The borrowing bill includes more than $115 million for projects in the two cities, a number of which have been waiting for funding for many years.
The largest of those appropriations was $31 million to rehabilitate the 10th Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, which is among a trio of river bridges in the city constructed around the 1920s needing repair. Another of those, the Franklin Avenue Bridge, was rehabbed last year.
The bill also includes $25 million to build new exit ramps off Interstate 35W near Lake Street, as well as a Midtown Greenway connection to a future transit station on the freeway. That station will serve the Orange Line bus rapid transit route, running from Burnsville to downtown Minneapolis, which got $12 million in the bonding bill.
“It’s sort of the linchpin to the whole project. It’s really not a project without that happening,” Minneapolis City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden said of the project’s inclusion in the bonding bill.
Across the river, the seals and sea lions at St. Paul’s Como Park Zoo may soon swim a bit easier after winning $15 million to upgrade their habitat to a year-round, saltwater environment that connects the animals’ indoor and outdoor pools.
Now the seals stay indoors in the winter, before they are lifted in crates onto the outdoor Seal Island in the warmer months.
“They’ll be able to have the choice to swim inside to stay warm, if they choose to, or swim out into this large pool,” said Michelle Furrer, the zoo’s director.
Also in St. Paul, the Science Museum of Minnesota received $13 million to help repair water damage that museum officials have attributed to a major flaw in the building’s 1999 design.
The museum tried suing the architects to recover the damages, but the statute of limitations had already expired.
Another $12 million was set aside for the Dorothy Day Place, a $100 million set of buildings in downtown St. Paul that will offer social services and housing to the homeless. The first phase of that Catholic Charities project opened in January.
Other notable projects in Minneapolis and St. Paul include $5 million for a Norway House event center, $6 million for new galleries and an art study facility at the Minnesota Museum of American Art in the Pioneer Endicott Building, and $1 million to restore the historic steel and limestone fence at the Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery on Lake Street.