If You Can’t Pay For It, Don’t Try to Build It


Mankato, MN

In what I assume is an attempt to blow as much money as possible, Blue Earth County has decided that they are going to extend tiny Highway 12 an additional two miles in preparation for “growth” and a new school.

There’s nothing new about a new road being built. But there’s this one pesky problem: they have absolutely no idea how they plan on paying for this road.

According to this Free Press article, the Blue Earth County board authorized the purchase of the land, even though they don’t have the money, nor do they know how they’re going to get the money. It’s a case of “shoot first, ask questions later”:

“Although the $1.5 million believed to be necessary to gain ownership of the land isn’t available, [county engineer] Forsberg said the plats can be finalized to preserve the right-of-way, appraisals can be done, and the purchases can be ready to go when the funds are provided.

The board has unanimously authorized Forsberg and the county attorney to procure the land, “including the use of eminent domain if needed.”

Fueled by the prospect of new sprawl, a dangerous school, and progress, the Blue Earth County board has exhausted their ideas on how to pay for this important new route.

They have secured $1.1M from the Federal Government, but were denied TIGER funds. However, their ambition doesn’t stop there. They have decided to try for a grant from the “Local Road Improvement Program,” but the chances of this working out aren’t very good.

Funding Optimism

The optimism, however, is there. County Engineer Al Forsberg said “The more discouraged other people get, the better our chances are,” in regard to the difficulty of the application process.

They’ve also tossed around, at least preliminarily, the idea of a local sales tax, but will ultimately probably use some of their general funds to purchase the land.

OK, so now that you’ve read all that, answer me this: When in history has a road that has been this “necessary” needed so many options to figure out funding? This road is a massive investment with little to no return as it stands right now or arguably in the future.

In the article the board talks about “taking traffic off Highway 22.” This road isn’t going to alleviate anything because there’s nothing that needs alleviating.  Highway 22, a four lane highway, carries about 19,400 cars a day and the road that this highway would intersect only carries about 5,700 Hardly worth an almost $10m investment. And we just went through Rotary Ragnarök here in Mankato which were built to alleviate traffic.



The justification is that the school and new development are headed out that way, but the final plat for the school still doesn’t have the full confidence of the city council and I have only seen one subdivision proposal for the area.

Here’s a visualization:


The blissful ignorance that the Blue Earth County Board shows is not only misguided, it’s dangerous. People are driving less and less and the County decides they’re hell-bent on putting in this road causing unneeded financial strain on both county and city governments.

What would happen if we took this approach to everything? I don’t know how I’m going to pay for that brand new boat, but darn it, I’m going to have it…without sacrificing anything, without working for it, without cutting back… I’ll just ask people for free money and hope I get it. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll just reach into my retirement fund.

Absurdity at its finest.

Matthias Leyrer

About Matthias Leyrer

Matthias Leyrer is a resident of Mankato looking to restore a fraction of its old glory. He writes about the economic, aesthetic, practical and financial issues facing the city of Mankato going forward.www.keycity.co. Follow him @mjleyrer