The Rice County Board of Commissioners today unanimously approved the 10 year transportation plan for the county covering years 2021 through 2030.  The approval followed a public hearing that had no comments from the public.

Rice County Highway Engineer Dennis Luebbe made a presentation saying there were, "67 projects listed in that 10 year plan.  They total 90 million 385 thousand dollars worth of investment. This is a major annual effort by the department, board and staff and outreach to all the local communities to keep them aprised of where we are with projects we previously identified.  Develop new projects based upon priorities, opportunities and the need."

Luebbe went over where the approximately 90 million dollars was coming from, "We have about 42 million dollars of that from our state aid receipts.  Our state sales tax is tabbed for about 35 million dollars.  So quick math there, we are receiving over 3.5 million dollars a year in that revenue.  Our construction program  would probably be instead of 67 projects, 30 or 32, half the amount.  That sales tax is critical for us to be able to continue to deliver the upgrades we've been able to do over the last seven years."

Luebbe said next year included are 4 bridges in addition to a joint bridge project with Steele County on the county line, "We also have our County Road 80 bridge, bridge number 66501.  That has been funded and we will be preparing plans and advertising for that this spring or late this fall.  We're still waiting for bridge bonding to come through on those other two structures.  It could be a big year from a drainage perspective.  Maybe 5 bridges along with a $700,000 dollar centerline culvert replacement contract.  I think there was like 26 culverts or something in the neighborhood of that."

The Rice County Highway Engineer said, "Our major project for next year is the delayed County Road 76 reconstruction from County Road 8 to County Road 1.  We had the evidentiary hearing  in late October.  We are awaiting the court ruling on that.  A positive ruling would allow us to move forward  with the Emminent Domain proceeding.  I wouldn't expect any delay with that. That would allow us to deliver that project next year."

Luebbe shared what he called "good news" concerning the proposed six legged roundabout proposed at Highway 19, I-35 and Rice County Roads 46 and 59.

" We received Minnesota highway freight program funding of 1.1 million dollars.  So we have 2 million dollars secured for construction of that roundabout.  We've just begun the preliminary design.  We would hope to move through that in the coming months and early next year possibly move into final design.  We're still awaiting the determination of one more grant, I think that was a $700,000 grant we applied for and I also went ahead and applied for some other funding through the local highway safety and improvement program.  So that project (planned for construction in 2022) is advancing at least from a funding perspective and that's certainly, probably the most important aspect of it."

Rice County Commisisoners also unanimously approved authorizing two deer hunts requested by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in the Cannon River Wildnerness Park area.

The DNR requested the hunts for "scientific purposes" into chronic wasting disease.

The hunts would be archery only and take place December 26 and 27, 2020 and January 2 and 3, 2021.  People could take an unlimited number of either-sex deer.

Hunters would be required to submit tissue samples to the DNR for chronic wasting disease testing.

Fifty permits would be available on a first come-first served basis through the DNR Electronic Licensing System. (The permits for the two weekends are separate drawings so it would involve a separate set of hunters each weekend).

Hunters must stay within any boundaries that are prescribed by the hunt administrator or that are depicted on maps provided by the hunt administrator.  Hunters must select only one hunt period.  Hunters would be required to wear blaze orange.

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