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$5 million for Wadena infrastructure costs hinges on Gov. Dayton's signature

U.S. Highway 10 is set to undergo some reconstruction in 2019, along with improvements to the infrastructure expected this summer. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

Pending the signature of Governor Mark Dayton, Wadena will receive $5 million through the state bonding bill that passed the Minnesota Legislature Sunday evening.

The money was requested in order to pay for infrastructure costs that at this point are still unknown, according to Wadena Mayor George Deiss. Gov. Dayton has two weeks to sign or not sign the bonding bill.

Deiss said if the governor signs the bill the money will help pay for a lot of infrastructure costs associated with the reconstruction of U.S. Hwy 10 in Wadena. Much of the fees could come from environmental costs associated with dewatering the site as electric, water and sewer are installed alongside the reconstructed roadway. In the process of taking core samples along the highway, MnDOT discovered contaminants that mean all the water pumped out during construction has to go through a filtering process. That could be costly.

"We don't know how much that will cost," Deiss said. "It's a huge amount per hour."

That's why the city requested $5 million that could take a large burden off the taxpayers of Wadena.

The larger bonding request of $60 million was shot down earlier in talks. That amount would have paid for the full reconstruction and conversion of the two-lane Hwy. 10 into four lanes leading in and out of Wadena.

Wadena County Commissioner Sheldon Monson also was glad to see the bonding money included for Wadena.

"It should greatly benefit the city of Wadena," he said. He said he worked extensively with Wadena County Commissioner Bill Stearns, U.S. Representative John Poston R-Lake Shore and Sen. Paul Gazelka on trying to get the larger bonding request approved. When that was thrown out, they scaled it back to just the eastern portion. When that didn't make the cut, he said they adamantly pushed for the $5 million request. Poston said this type of work wouldn't normally make it on the bonding bill but because the contaminants were brought on by the railroad it was not a cost that should be taxed against the Wadena residents, he said.

Deiss hopes that once the town portion of the highway is reconstructed that the larger project will have a better chance of approval next time. Poston has a very positive feeling it will receive funding in the next couple years, saying that it was one of the higher rated projects.

"With that critical infrastructure going in, it really prepares us for the four lanes coming through," Poston said.

Mayor Deiss said with the governor seemingly veto-happy, he's hoping these funds will get approval. Monson echoed that feeling.

"We can't count our blessings until the governor signs the bonding bill," Monson said.

Sponsored by Rep. Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg) and Sen. Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake), the bonding bill contains $1.43 billion in total appropriations; $825 million of which would be general obligation bonding.

Wadena Armory

Also listed as part of the bonding bill was $2.147 million to be used for the Wadena Armory remodel project, which is currently underway.