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Archive for the ‘I-35W’ Category

Marshall Independent editor Dana Yost in the Editors Blog on August 15 says,

“…I think Molnau should be stripped of her MnDOT commissioner role, keeping just the lieutenant governor position. This will remove any suspicion that politics or fiscal fear is getting in the way of a responsible response to the collapse. Molnau has said money wasn’t a consideration in the response to the 35W bridge, but that’s a fairly laughable contention since MnDOT and other state officials have all said they sought less-expensive responses to harsh inspection reports. She doesn’t have much credibility.”

Lieutenant Governor/Commissioner Molnau has garnered criticisim from both the DFL and GOP for what they perceive as an unwllingness to advocate for funding for the state’s transportation needs.

“I don’t think she has had any vision of transportation, and she did not advocate for the department, and I think that she should,” said Rep. Ron Erhardt, R-Edina, who has long supported a gas tax hike. Pioneer Press

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, doesn’t believe she can continue to do her job. Star Tribune

Real leadership and unity are what we will need going forward and Yost’s blog says it all.

Read the blog here.

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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       superhighway before its super       

superhighway

paving superhighway

The preceding pictures were taken in Southwestern Minnesota during the construction of the “super highway” I-90 in the early 60’s. It connected rural America and bypassed it at the same time. This investment in infrastructure did create jobs and opportunities and provided an economic boost to the region.

With the collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis there has been renewed focus on the transportation debate in Minnesota. Here is a sampling from southwestern Minnesota newspapers:

Worthington Daily Globe, August 9, 2007, Mending Our Roads

“We’re pleased to hear Gov. Tim Pawlenty is reconsidering his position on a 10-cent increase in the state gasoline tax. It’s something that was necessary before the collapse of the I-35W bridge in the Twin Cities — and certainly needed now as a means of generating additional, much-needed revenue”.

and this,

“At a Tuesday meeting of the Nobles County Board of Commissioners, Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder indicated the county doesn’t have the funds needed to maintain road surfaces in accordance with 10-ton standards, much less fund road reconstruction projects. Something is wrong with this state of affairs.”

The editorial is here.

 

Marshall Independent, August 7, 2007, Make Response on Infrastructure Comprehensive

“The landscape has changed, almost overnight, on transportation talk.

What happened in Minneapolis last Wednesday was unacceptable.

It will also be unacceptable if the response from Minnesota law and policy makers falls anything short of a comprehensive, thoroughly funded change of course on roads and bridges.

Minnesotans need to be able to trust that their transportation system is safe and well-cared for.

Until lawmakers respond, that trust is shaky.”

The editorial is here.

 

Cottonwood County Citizen, August 8, 2007, Value of Infrastructure

“…Let’s face it, the State of Minnesota has taken a patchwork approach to its transportation system for at least a couple of decades. What we are now seeing is clearly a case of state officials reacting to a tragedy and the public pressure that has ensued.”

and this

“The challenge before rural lawmakers is to convince metro lawmakers of the importance of addressing all state highway needs equally - without favoring the metro area.

It is about time that state lawmakers address our deteriorating highways and bridges. It’s too bad, however, it took a tragedy to push them to this point.”

The editorial is here.

 

If we are to make something positive out of this we need to continue the momentum calling for a real investment in our transportation infrastructure. There will be additional debates about rural versus metro needs and roads versus transit but hopefully we will have some leadership that will show that this type of investment will strengthen our economy more than any of the economic development tax break plans that have received so much hype.

 

Peace and solidarity,

CHC

 

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That quote has been attributed to Mother Jones, the feisty Irish-born labor activist/agitator who made her mark in history during the late 1800’s. It seems appropriate given the events of the last few days in Minnesota.

At 6:05 PM, Wednesday, August 1, 2007 the I-35W bridge across the Mississippi River collapsed-carrying with it it’s precious cargo; everyday citizens going about their normal business. Tragically, lives have been lost and many others were injured, physically and emotionally. Recovery efforts continue, the investigation of the cause of this bridge failure has started, and plans for rebuilding are in the works. This catastrophic event has generated a lot of interest and debate about the condition of bridges across the nation. The national media is giving the bridge issue a lot of air time now but I fear they will tire of it and move on to the next ‘big story’. That would be tragic.

The infrastructure issue is more than just highway bridges.  Our roads, schools, communications, energy, water and other public resources have been ignored for to long. We need real leaders to tackle this and push for an aggressive effort to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. Not the Governor Tim Pawlenty type that vetoes a transportation bill that was supported by business, labor, cities and counties, and others throughout the state. As citizens we need to have a grassroots effort demanding an investment in our future. Correcting the infrastructure deficiencies of the past will require massive amounts of money but it will also create untold thousands of good paying jobs and opportunities. If politicians really want to help the poor, the working class, the small businessman, and hell yes, even the rich, here is the opportunity.

When I-90 was built across southern Minnesota it provided an opportunity for my father. He moved his wife and four young children to the small town of Beaver Creek, Minnesota. There as an independent agent for a major oil company he serviced the construction equipment that was being used by the companies building the road. It was hard work. There were long hours. But this opportunity provided for his family and helped him establish his business. Later, when he made a career change, he became an employee of the State of Minnesota as the manager of the Travel Information Center located on I-90. After a successful career there he finally retired with a good pension and health care benefits. He now resides in the Veterans Home in Luverne, a state run facility built with federal, state, and local dollars. Do you get my point yet? Investment in public infrastructure has had a profound and positive effect on the life of my father and his family.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned Mother Jones. I like to think that if she were alive today she would be asking, no demanding we fix our roads and bridges, fix our schools, fix our public infrastructure. Mother Jones would be fighting for the living. Shouldn’t we do the same?

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

Workday Minnesota has a special section devoted to coverage of the I-35W bridge collapse here.

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