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New round of MN road money aimed at boosting businesses

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Better roads are good for business. At least that's the thinking behind Minnesota's newest round of road construction projects.

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith announced the 11 projects that will receive $32 million in state funding at a ceremony in Bloomington Tuesday.

The money comes from both the Transportation and Economic Development departments and Smith emphasized that the public dollars are meant to leverage private investment.

The projects they'll fund range from new roads to small town industrial parks to a new freeway interchange in Bloomington.

Six of the projects are in Greater Minnesota:

Those improvements make up a majority of the 11 projects, but Forum News Service notes that the combined cost is less than $2.5 million.

The bulk of the money is going to the five Twin Cities area projects, which are mapped here.

New access to Interstate 494

An interchange on U.S. Highway 169 in Scott County is getting the biggest chunk of money, at $10 million. But the project that garnered the most attention Tuesday was a new access to Interstate 494 in Bloomington.

The new ramp will give westbound traffic access to the Interstate from East Bush Lake Road. As FOX 9 reports, one of the goals is to ease a bottleneck at the busy 494/Highway 100 interchange.

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Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle tells KARE 11 the Bloomington project is a complicated one – with nearby railroad tracks and very little right of way – so it required an innovative design. Traffic will pass over 494 and then under the railroad tracks before merging with westbound lanes.

State officials say the economic impact they would provide was a factor in selecting the 11 projects from among 22 proposals. It's estimated that they'll create 5,900 jobs over the next five years.

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