October 31, 2018 10:19 PM
The Minnesota Department of Transportation started rebuilding the Goose Creek rest stop near Harris on Interstate 35 in 2017.
The department came under criticism for the project's cost from several state lawmakers in January.
Rep. Anne Neu, R-North Branch, Rep. Jason Rarick, R-Beroun, and Rep. Brian Johnson, R-Cambridge sent a letter to MnDOT which said the $7 million price tag for Goose Creek's reconstruction was too expensive.
The letter said the project was several million dollars over budget.
Robert Williams oversees the Goose Creek project for MnDOT. Williams said the project is not over budget and lawmakers must have not realized it was being done in two phases. He added the actual budget was close to the original $6.9 million projection.
"We could not run the two phases concurrently, " Williams said. "And the costs are not for extravagant materials, but rather environmentally friendly and energy efficient materials that will save money in the long run."
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Williams said the wood on the outside of the rest stop is a very durable material that will last longer than other types of wood.
"The wood is resistant to insects and you cannot carve into either," Williams said. "It will also last longer and not have to be replaced as quickly as treated timber."
The original target date to open Goose Creek was August. It was later pushed back to October. Now MnDOT says it will likely open by late November or early December.
Neu does not agree with MnDOT on the overall project price tag, its predicted energy efficiency and cost savings to taxpayers.
"There is no way someone can look at this and think the cost ratio to savings is good," Neu said. "It is just absurd, to me, to think we had to spend $7 million on something that really is nothing more than a bathroom and parking lot."
Updated: October 31, 2018 10:19 PM
Created: October 31, 2018 08:45 PM
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