Local government makes noise in D.C.The road to a reconstructed Highway 61, countywide broadband and a new Two Harbors marina went through Washington, D.C. last week when a group of local elected officials spent two days lobbying at the nation’s Capitol.
By: Matt Suoja, Lake County News Chronicle
The road to a reconstructed Highway 61, countywide broadband and a new Two Harbors marina went through Washington, D.C. last week when a group of local elected officials spent two days lobbying at the nation’s Capitol.
“It went excellent,” Two Harbors City Councilor Mary Henjum Rosati said of the Sept. 23-24 trip. “They were familiar with some of our projects.”
Two Harbors Mayor Randy Bolen expressed a similar tone.
“We went out as a joint effort,” he said. “[We] wanted to show we need funds for Two Harbors and Lake County. It was lobbying 101.”
A possible Highway 61 reconstruction project was one item on the agenda. Recently, Lake County and the city of Two Harbors jointly applied for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant for various transportation projects. Highway 61 would be improved between Two Harbors and the Silver Creek Cliff Tunnel to address safety issues. The grant money could also go toward a Silver Creek project to provide the area with city sewer and water from Two Harbors.
“We have the support of the offices,” County Commissioner Rich Sve said, who spoke on behalf of Silver Creek. “[Sen. Amy] Klobuchar knew about the TIGER grant.”
But the grant is no sure thing, members of the delegation said — a sentiment being echoed in D.C.
“It’s going to be tough,” said John Schadl, communications director for U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Chisholm, about the TIGER grant.
Schadl said even if the area doesn’t get the grant, it will not be wasted time on anyone’s part, however.
“You can never lose by engaging in the planning process,” he said.
Other road projects listed under the TIGER grant include a new road access to downtown Two Harbors from Highway 61 to Eighth Avenue, which would be a connection to the marina, and for building a Northern Lights Express rail station and maintenance facility in Two Harbors if the Twin Cities-to-Duluth, and ultimately North Shore, train project is approved.
All of the local government officials said their ideas were well-received, including those for county-wide broadband.
“They were very excited about that,” County Commissioner Paul Bergman said, adding Washington officials said that Internet communications would help them communicate with voters.
Of the marina, Bergman said the local group stressed its potential in bringing traffic to downtown Two Harbors, in turn spurring economic growth.
The trip cost about $2,000 for the two city officials, Two Harbors City Administrator Lee Klein said. Wilma Rahn, the County Board’s administrative clerk, said the cost for the two county commissioners was about the same.