ST. PAUL — Minnesota highways, bridges and broadband internet are set to receive billions of dollars in investment over five years from a $1 trillion infrastructure bill Congress passed and sent to President Joe Biden's desk last week.

While it's not entirely clear where it will be spent, the majority of the more than $6 billion Minnesota can expect under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is for highway and bridge construction, according to figures from a White House fact sheet breaking down the spending bill's impact on the state.

The funding boost could mean many major infrastructure projects across the state can move forward earlier, according to Minnesota Transportation Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher. More than 661 bridges and 4,986 miles of highway in Minnesota are considered to be in poor condition by the White House, and state transportation officials routinely say they do not have the funding to address aging infrastructure.

"We'll be able to move somethings forward that frankly, we've had to put on the shelf and hold off on because we just did not have the funding," Anderson Kelliher said at a news conference in St. Paul Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 9, with Democratic Minnesota Reps. Angie Craig and Dean Phillips, who supported the bill in Congress.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
Contributed
Margaret Anderson Kelliher, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Contributed

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One of those projects is a replacement for Duluth's "can of worms" highway interchange, Anderson Kelliher said. That project is currently divided into multiple phases, but more funding could mean condensing the project into fewer parts.

Anderson Kelliher said her department will be working with legislators to determine how to spend the federal dollars and will present them with a proposal on how to move forward.

Electric vehicle charging stations can also expect to see millions in funding over the next five years in Minnesota — up to $68 million over the next five years according to an estimate from the White House — something Anderson Kelliher said will lead to more reliability for EVs.

Another key part of the bill is funding for broadband internet infrastructure, of which Minnesota will receive a minimum of $100 million. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, that federal funding would go toward extending broadband to an estimated 83,000 Minnesota families that currently do not have access. More than 1 million Minnesotans would be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit aimed at providing internet access to people with low incomes.

Minnesota airports would receive more than $297 million in federal funding over five years, which could aid in projects in rural areas such as a runway extension at the Thief River Falls Airport projected to cost tens of millions, the Grand Forks Herald reported.

Other potential investments in Minnesota over the next five years include:

  • $818 million for public transportation
  • $680 million for water infrastructure
  • $20 million for wildfire protection
  • $17 million for cybersecurity

The House of Representatives passed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act last week with mostly Democratic support after it passed in the Senate in August with bipartisan support.

Representatives from Minnesota and North Dakota voted almost entirely along party lines. Minneapolis Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, whose district includes Minneapolis, voted against the bill as it was passed separately from more comprehensive progressive legislation.

All U.S. senators from Minnesota and North Dakota supported the infrastructure bill. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., plans to hold a news conference of his own Wednesday, Nov. 10, to tout the bill's benefits for his state.

North Dakota is set to receive $1.7 billion over five years for road projects and bridges. It could also receive up to $2.5 billion in flood mitigation funds.

Follow Alex Derosier on Twitter @xanderosier or email aderosier@forumcomm.com.