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City seeks state grant for street improvements

By Tim Ruzek

The Post-Bulletin

Hormel Institute’s upcoming expansion has the city of Austin seeking a state grant for more than $500,000 to help fund infrastructure improvements near the cancer-research facility.

Austin City Council members on Monday unanimously approved a resolution authorizing City Engineer Jon Erichson to submit an application for a Bioscience Business Development Public Infrastructure grant.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development will review the application for the grant, which would cover half of the project’s cost, or an estimated $512,500. The city would cover the other half.

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Construction for the city’s project tentatively is scheduled for 2007.

Hormel Institute plans to expand its facility to the south, along 16th Avenue Northeast. The building also will undergo a major renovation.

The expansion will create challenges with the existing road, drainage and sewer systems, according to Erichson.

Under the city’s proposed plan, the project’s biggest cost would be an estimated $800,000 to reconstruct 16th Avenue from Fourth Street to Eighth Street Northeast.

The rural-styled road would be upgraded to an urban street design and likely would have a traffic-control feature added to the 16th Avenue and Sixth Street Northeast intersection, according to the city’s proposed plan.

Legislators established the grant program earlier this year to assist with public infrastructure changes to support bioscience projects. The grant has a maximum limit of 50 percent of the project’s costs.

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