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House approves bonding bill, including Mille Lacs trails

ST. PAUL—A $1.5 million appropriation for the Mille Lacs-Malmo East all-terrain vehicle loop near Mille Lacs Lake passed as part of an $825 million capital investment bill the Minnesota House approved Monday, May 14.

This funding would allow the addition of 58 miles of ATV trail called the Mille Lacs-Malmo East Loop ATV trail to the Northwoods Regional ATV Trail System.

"The new trail would be located on the east side of Mille Lacs Lake, branching off to the north from the South Soo Line ATV Trail, providing a scenic trail connection between the communities of Glen, Malmo and Isle," said Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, in a news release. "This funding is necessary to take the next step in building a world-class ATV trail system and provides much needed diversity to the recreational opportunities along Mille Lacs Lake."

Overall, more than two-thirds of the bonding in the capital investment bill is dedicated to bricks-and-mortar projects, such as roads and bridges, water infrastructure and statewide asset preservation. The bill also features a component to use excess reserves from the Vikings stadium account to fund construction of veterans homes in Bemidji, Montevideo and Preston.

The bonding portion of the bill includes:

• $364 million for asset preservation such as state-owned buildings,

• $120 million for road and transportation infrastructure,

• $153 million for water and conservation projects, and

• $188 million for "other" projects, such as $25 million for school safety and $25 million for mental health centers.

"I am pleased to see movement on funding for the construction of veterans homes in Preston, Bemidji, and Montevideo," Lueck said. "The Viking stadium reserve account is expected to reach $58 million this biennium and grow to $120.2 million in the out years. We built a new home for the Vikings, we are long overdue on building more homes for our veterans."

With other funding such as trunk highway bonds included, the bill provides an additional $254 million for transportation, $10 million more for clean water/conservation and $127 million in other capital investment funding for a total of $1.2 billion in making sure we take care of existing public infrastructure and, where appropriate, construct new facilities, such as veterans homes.