State and Province News October 2010
By early October, the Jefferson County Council is expected to make a decision on a proposed sand and gravel mine, stltoday.com reports. More than 100 people attended a recent council meeting; most were opposed to the operation and cited concerns about property values, truck traffic, and noise. John and Krista Harness, siblings who proposed the operation, say none of those issues would be a problem.
The state’s Transportation Trust Fund Authority approved $1.75 billion in new and refunding bonds, using up almost all the borrowing capacity in the state’s main funding source for highway and mass-transit improvements. Bloomberg.com reports that the state transportation fund will run out of money for new projects by next year unless officials allocate new sources of revenue. Debt service on more than $12 billion in outstanding bonds is expected to account for most of the $895 million in annual revenue paid into the fund for the next 31 years. Gov. Chris Christie said he could renew the transportation trust fund without raising the state’s gas tax. Democrats are urging an increase in the tax, which is the third lowest rate in the nation.
The Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve zoning for a Toro Rock Product’s gravel pit in Las Cruces. According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, the commission attached eight conditions, including moving the processing plant 600 feet west (away from a nearby subdivision), planting a line of trees on the eastern boundary, and constructing a berm to serve as a wind block. In addition, the plant must shut down when wind speeds are greater than 20 miles per hour. The zoning case began last November when residents complained about quarrying to the county, and county planning staff found that the site didn’t meet a condition for being grandfathered into the county’s zoning code without the need for a zoning change.
Oswego County Highway Superintendent Kurt Ospelt asked the county government to explore the possibility of renting a portable crusher, valleynewsonline.com reports. With an anticipated cost of $37,500 for a month’s rental, Ospelt said the crusher could be used in conjunction with the county’s screening plants to produce crushed stone for use in asphalt paving along county roads. The county currently spends approximately $10 per ton of stone, as well as transportation costs. The crusher rental is projected to lower those costs to $3.25 per ton. The legislature’s Infrastructure and Facilities Committee approved the rental.
Knife River announced that it was the successful bidder on a combined $41 million in new highway work. The Central Texas Division was the low bidder on $19.3 million in work on four different Texas state highway projects, with the largest being $9.2 million on FM 148 in Kaufman County. Knife River – Central Minnesota was the low bidder on a $14.3 million job in Minnesota’s Renville and McLeod Counties to complete a reconstruct and hot-mix asphalt overlay on Truck Highway 212. The company’s newest division, the Yellowstone Division, was the low bidder on a Montana DOT project to reconstruct four miles of highway. Its bid was $7.7 million. “We continue to see many good projects coming our way through individual state DOTs,” said Knife River Corp. President and CEO Bill Schneider. “These jobs will keep our backlog strong and will provide good work for many of our employees next season.”
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