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COUNTY CONNECTIONS: How the New Infrastructure Bill Affects Cook County’s Road and Bridge System

Apr 01, 2022 10:02AM ● By Editor
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By Cook County Highway Engineer Robert Hass from Cook County MN • April1, 2022

The Biden administration passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), more commonly called the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, back in November 2021. Here is a quick breakdown:

  • Of the $1.2 trillion bill, half is new funding.

  • MN will receive $4.8 billion in formula funds (more to come on that) for roads and

    bridges over the next five years. This is an increase of about $240 million per year.

Of that $240 million per year, approximately 30% (or $71 million per year) gets distributed to local government.

These numbers exceed anything we normally deal with on a day-to-day basis. We want to present how this bill will specifically affect Cook County’s road and bridge system.

As of this writing, the short answer is that the new bill somewhat affects our road and bridge system. We have two projects already scheduled to receive federal funds in 2023 and 2024. We are also working on a RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) grant for 2027 construction.

In 2023, the replacement of a bridge on CR 69 over the Flute Reed River will receive federal BROS (Bridge Replacement Off-System) funding. Typically, there is an 80/20 split between federal funds and a match requirement. The IIJA may, however, cover 100% of the project costs. The preliminary estimate for this project is about $843,000, so the BROS funds would typically cover $674,400 and we would have to cover the remaining $168,600. Since this is not a State Aid route, the match funds would have to come from local dollars (levy or TST), state bridge bonds, or some type of other grant funds. Once the plans are finalized this spring, we will submit for state bridge bonds to help keep levy demand down.

In 2024, the “Mill the Hill” project on the Gunflint Trail will receive federal STBG (Surface Transportation Block Grant) program funds. We receive these funds every five to seven years in Cook County. This project will receive $1.48 million from that program. STBG funds fall into the category of federal formula program funds. The IIJA could increase that amount.

The RAISE grant is for a $15 million reconditioning project for about 16 miles of the Gunflint Trail. If our application is approved, we will work on two segments: “Between the 92s” and “End of the Trail.” The project involves replacing rusted out culverts, improving the roadbed, and resurfacing the road. This grant opportunity is reimbursement based, and funds are not available until 2027.

The IIJA is bolstering existing formula funds and competitive grant opportunities and creating some new competitive grant opportunities. More information is constantly rolling out about the reach of the IIJA bill, and our hope is that more opportunities will present themselves that make rural infrastructure projects more desirable for these funding sources. While a lot of “mega projects” will get the funding they need across the nation and the state, we hope that our smaller but important projects get the attention they deserve. We will continue to apply to these competitive grant programs to try and bring in as much money to Cook County as we can.

For additional information, please give us a call at the Cook County Highway Department, 218- 387-3014. MnDOT has a great resource page located here as well:

Take care and we will see you on the road!

County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook
County County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service


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