St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle held a news conference in St. Paul Thursday morning to officially kick off the highway construction season in the state.

Zelle and Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith announced a list of 246 road and bridge projects that are on the construction schedule this season and to call on state lawmakers to approve a long-term funding mechanism for the state’s transportation infrastructure needs. Governor Dayton has championed the use of higher gasoline taxes is the main revenue source for a 10 year plan costing $6 billion, while Republicans in the State House want to tap the state’s current budget surplus and shift existing revenues from auto -related taxes to transportation projects.

Minnesota Department of Transportation (Twitter)

A separate news conference was held at the Department of Transportation headquarters in Rochester to detail the list of 27 projects in southeastern Minnesota. Officials say $54 million will be spent on new projects and another $50 million in carryover projects that span a number of years, including ongoing work on I-35 and major bridge projects along the Mississippi River.

In the Rochester area, the largest project will be the replacement of the bridge decks on Highway 52 over Highway 63 at a cost of $4.2 million. That project is scheduled to begin on Monday. MNDOT also plans to spend almost $5 million to resurface Highway 14 from Chester to St. Charles beginning in July. Highway 52 from Pine Island to Zumbrota will also be resurfaced this year the cost of $2.2 million. The construction also includes replacing the Highway 30 bridge at Hayfield and two bridges on Highway 56 in Mower County for about $2.5 million.

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