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Pawlenty announces 60 state highway projects

Associated Press

ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Pawlenty flew around the state Wednesday to unveil 60 greater Minnesota transportation projects that will get funding from the federal stimulus package.

Pawlenty said $180 million will go toward the projects, which are expected to create about 5,000 jobs. He made announcements in Rochester, Mankato, Duluth and St. Paul.

The Republican governor said he needs authority from the Democrat-controlled Legislature to spend the federal money, but lawmakers typically defer to the Minnesota Department of Transportation when it comes to picking specific projects.

The projects in greater Minnesota include rehabilitation of Interstate 94 near Monticello, repaving Highway 75 north of Ortonville, and asphalt and concrete replacement work on parts of Interstate 90 in southern Minnesota.

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Pawlenty plans to announce the list of Twin Cities projects next month.

The governor opposed the stimulus package but is taking the money because Minnesota pays more to the federal government than it gets back. He said action was needed to stimulate the economy but criticized the bill that passed for not spending enough on infrastructure.

DFL House Majority Leader Tony Sertich said it was "ironic" that Pawlenty toured the state announcing projects from a bill he opposed.

Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel said the stimulus package doubles the usual annual federal transportation aid to Minnesota.

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