Local Road Improvement Program Grants Awarded

The grants will fund 56 local projects statewide, totaling approximately $35 million for road construction in 2019 or 2020.
(Published Nov 5, 2018)

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has selected 56 local road projects to receive grants from the Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP).

—See the list of selected projects

In 2018, with the support of the League of Minnesota Cities, the Legislature appropriated bond funds for the LRIP, established in Minnesota Statutes, section 174.52 to assist local agencies in constructing or reconstructing their local roads. Approximately $35 million was appropriated for LRIP projects to be constructed in 2019 or 2020.

Funding question resolved

The amount of funding for LRIP grants was in question until recently. Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), the agency responsible for managing the state’s finances, issued a memo to legislative leaders on June 15. The memo alerted legislators that language inserted at the end of Chapter 214, the omnibus bonding bill, includes a $15 million reduction to the “Local Road and Bridge” appropriation contained in an earlier article of the bill.

MMB’s interpretation of the language led them to reduce the unrestricted portion (versus earmarked portion) of the LRIP by $15 million, reducing the available funds from $35 million to $20 million. Ultimately, this interpretation was reversed, and the full $35 million was made available for LRIP grants.

No 2018 solicitation process

The 2017 solicitation process yielded a robust $125 million in eligible requests, with only $25 million appropriated for the LRIP. With so many projects remaining from 2017, MnDOT staff recommended using the 2018 funds to chip away at the remaining projects on the 2017 list.

League staff expressed disagreement with this plan based on the strategy that soliciting applications in 2018 would grow the “needs list” and help bolster the case for more LRIP appropriations in 2019. However, a majority of the LRIP Advisory Committee supported the MnDOT staff recommendation, and the agency rescored the 2017 list to determine the 2018 grant awards.

Distribution statewide

About half of the $35 million provided was distributed to large and small cities statewide. MnDOT selected projects using criteria recommended by the LRIP Advisory Committee, made up of local government stakeholders.

The LRIP Advisory Committee set the funding targets as follows:

  • 30 percent state aid cities
  • 35 percent counties
  • 30 percent small cities and townships
  • 5 percent discretionary

MnDOT also followed the committee’s recommendation that funds be dispersed evenly so that the amount spent in each MnDOT district is comparable. In addition, projects selected through this program must meet the eligibility requirements of the Routes of Regional Significance Account, the Rural Road Safety Account, or the Trunk Highway Corridor Account as defined in statute.

Informal solicitation coming

The advisory committee also recommended that MnDOT’s State Aid Division prepare another solicitation this fall to create a new list of projects for the demonstration of need for continued support and funding of the program to the Legislature. The League anticipates receiving notice of this solicitation sometime in late November.

Given the demonstrable demand for funding, the League will be working with MnDOT and other stakeholders to advocate for more funding for the LRIP in future bonding bills.

For more information, contact Patti Loken, State Aid Programs Engineer at patti.loken@state.mn.us or (651) 366-3803.

For more background information about this topic, read a previous Cities Bulletin article.

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