Governor Doug Burgum (R) signed into law a $680 million bonding package on April 21 to support infrastructure upgrades across North Dakota including flood control, roads, bridges, water projects and an agricultural facility – money will come from the state’s “Legacy Fund” earnings, generated from oil and natural gas leases.
[Above photo by the North Dakota DOT]
Concurrently, North Dakota also launched a first-of-its-kind cross-border COVID-19 vaccination program with the Canadian province of Manitoba on April 20.
That six-week effort that will focus primarily on inoculating Manitoba-based truck drivers making freight deliveries in United States.
The governor noted that the bonding bill is a “win for taxpayers” as it provides a “reliable repayment mechanism” due to its reliance on Legacy Fund earnings to make bond payments instead of raising taxes.
“With historic low interest rates, investing in infrastructure now is the financially conservative thing to do,” the governor said in a statement.
“We will save tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars for our state and political subdivisions over time versus waiting for years and paying cash,” he said. “That’s just smart economics, and it’s going to save our taxpayers dollars.”
The $680 million bonding package includes:
- $510 million for two major flood control projects, including $435.5 million for the Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Project and $74.5 million for Minot area flood control.
- $35 million for state bridge repair and $35 million for the North Dakota Department of Transportation to leverage federal dollars to invest in North Dakota projects.
- $50 million for a revolving loan fund to support city and county infrastructure projects.
- $50 million to replace Harris Hall at North Dakota State University with an agricultural products development center.
Meanwhile, North Dakota’s Essential Worker Cross-Border Vaccination Initiative is inoculating Manitoba-based truck drivers transporting goods to and from the United States with the COVID-19 vaccine.
“North Dakota and Manitoba have a long and rich history of friendship and co-operation, and this vaccination initiative is an opportunity to strengthen that bond by offering assistance that will protect public health and the flow of goods and services on both sides of the border,” Gov. Burgum explained in a statement.
“With adequate vaccine supplies and all North Dakotans having access to vaccine while Canada is dealing with a vaccine shortage, we want to do our part to ensure essential workers from Canada who are frequently traveling through our state are vaccinated,” he added. “The timely and effective administration of vaccines is essential for public health and the eventual safe reopening of our shared border.”
Manitoba Trucking Association and its members will coordinate with North Dakota and Manitoba government workers to schedule vaccination appointments for truck drivers during their routine trips to the United States over the next six to eight weeks – with roughly 2,000 to 4,000 Manitoba truck drivers expected to participate in this inoculation program.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation’s rest area near Drayton will initially serve as the main vaccination site for this program; an inoculation effort that will also be open to North Dakotans aged 16 and older. Vaccinations will take place from noon to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
The North Dakota Department of Health will provide nurses and other staff to administer the first and second doses of the vaccine to provide full immunization of truckers. There is no cost to the state or province as the U.S. government supplies the vaccine and reimburses all administrative costs, Gov. Burgum’s administration noted.