Senate unveils bonding bill that funds Preston veterans home; focuses on core public infrastructure

On Wednesday, the Minnesota Senate unveiled an $825 million bonding bill that focuses on core public infrastructure projects throughout the state of Minnesota, including full funding for a proposed veterans home in Preston.

“This is a bread-and-butter bonding bill that will have a significant impact throughout Minnesota,” said Senator Jeremy Miller (R-Winona). “Not only does it provide resources to fund projects critical to Southeastern Minnesota, like the Preston Veterans Home, but it also delivers funding for important priorities like the mental health crisis, sewer and water infrastructure, and our deteriorating roads and bridges.”

The proposed 72-bed veterans’ home in Preston would serve more than 200 veterans in southeast Minnesota, and construction could generate $36 million in economic activity.

“Building the veterans home in Preston is a time-sensitive project,” added Senator Miller. “Right now Minnesota qualifies for more than 200 additional veterans home beds under federal guidelines, but that number could drop after the next census in 2020. We have to take advantage of the opportunity in front of us before it’s too late.”

In addition to the Preston veterans home, two other projects in southeastern Minnesotan received funding in the Senate’s bonding proposal.

  • $2.5 million for Wagon Wheel Trail in La Crescent. The third phase of this four-phase project calls for the construction of a bridge over Trunk Highway 14 near downtown La Crescent that will connect to the existing first two phases of Wagon Wheel Trail. The trail will eventually be a safe, reliable multi-use trail connecting downtown La Crescent with downtown La Crosse.
  • $200,000 to acquire land for, construct, and pay expenses for an extension of the Blufflands state trail system from Harmony to the Iowa border, including a connection to Niagara Cave in Fillmore County.

In addition to these Southeast Minnesota projects, the Senate’s bonding bill includes these priorities:

  • $342 million for statewide road and bridge projects, including the long-overdue expansion of Highway 14.
  • $120 million for critical sewer and water treatment infrastructure upgrades.
  • $80 million for mental health support for vulnerable Minnesotans, including $30 million to establish regional mental health crisis centers throughout the state of Minnesota.