Archive for the ‘I-90’ Category

Since it is the 18th of January I figured it was about time to change my superhighway.jpgChristmas header image. The economic stimulus plans floating around have included the need for increased investment in our infrastructure such as roads and bridges. The new header image is from an old slide from my father’s archives when I-90 was being built near Beaver Creek in the early 60’s.  In a previous post I stressed the need for investment in our transportation infrastructure and hopefully with the Obama administration we will get back on track.superhighway-before-its-super.jpg


Peace & solidarity,



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Early Saturday morning, a minivan with Rock County DFL delegates set out to Albert Lea to attend the 1st CD convention. Despite the blustery winds and icy conditions on I-90 we arrived safely to join the other delegates from across the 1st CD to take care of business. Listening to speeches, electing officers, filling committee spots, etc. is par for the course for conventions. Tedious but necessary. The delegates to the national convention that were elected truly represent the makeup of the 1st CD. Of those chosen were party regulars, an 18 year old first time delegate, and a 75 year old delegate.

The best part of the day of course was the nomination of Tim Walz to represent the people of the 1st Congressional District. The congressman has done an outstanding job in his first term and has worked very hard to restore trust in the people we send to Washington D.C. I have been cynical and often disillusioned with our elected officials. Not so with Tim Walz. I am proud to claim him as my representative. His work ethic, openness, intelligence, values, and manner of speaking are just some of his attributes. He understands the challenges that I face. He understands my wants and my needs. He understands my dreams.

After several nominating speeches from delegates, Gwen Walz, the Congressman’s wife, gave a rousing introduction for her husband which really got the crowd pumped up. Prior to taking the stage, I was lucky enough to capture this moment with the Congressman getting last minute advice on his acceptance speech from his son, Gus.

His daughter Hope, joined him on stage while Gus worked the crowd. Congressman Walz gave a great speech and talked about building the largest grassroots campaign the 1st CD has ever seen. There is one thing about his message today that stuck with me. This campaign is not about Tim Walz.  It is about us taking our democracy back. It is about our hope for the future. It is about the people of the 1st CD. He is one of us and that is why we will send him back to Washington D.C.



Delegates conducting business

As always, you can find the latest news and views about Tim Walz and the 1st CD at A Bluestem Prairie.


Peace & solidarity,



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Minnesota’s 1st CD Congressman Tim Walz(D) has been working hard in Washington D.C. on energy issues and recently issued a press release about the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008, H.R. 5351. Ollie Ox over at Bluestem Prairie covers it in detail here.

Minnesota Central looks at the tax and job creation implications in his post: Vote 51: Minnesota Jobs at stake while Congress chooses whose Tax Break to Extend.

Meanwhile, here in SW Minnesota local folks are working hard to prove that renewable and alternative energy is real and viable. Wind turbines are popping up and generating electricity and income due to a cooperative effort among local farmers and community members. Minwind LLC of Luverne, with over 300 members, has 11 turbines and plans to build more. Many of these people were instrumental in building the ethanol plant in Luverne owned by AgriEnergy LLC. The November/December 2007 issue of Rural Cooperatives published by the USDA highlights the Minwind project. New transmission lines are currently being constructed along I-90, creating good paying jobs.

 Here is a short (37 sec.) slide show


and since the title of this post is a Dylan tune here is a video of him performing in 1963. Enjoy!


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I worked some overtime Sunday (Michelle would be proud), and had to drive the 30 miles home on a windswept I-90. After only traveling several miles and seeing 3 vehicles in the median and ditch I knew it would be a slow, stressful, and frustrating trip home. We did not receive any snowfall in SW Minnesota but the combination of 40 mph winds and a temperature hovering around 32 degrees created slippery conditions on most of the highway.

Allow me to make a few observations and points about winter driving in SW Minnesota on I-90.

1.  Please allow plenty of distance between vehicles. This is a prairie interstate not the metro area. There is plenty of room for everyone. I do not appreciate you riding up my ass when you can lose control at any moment.

2.  Do not drive in packs.I know sometimes it is lonely on the interstate out here with nothing but windmills, power-lines, and barren snow covered fields but better to be lonely than part of a multi-car pileup.

3.  Turn your damn lights on!  Yes, it is the middle of the day but with reduced visibility it helps make your vehicle more visible. Oh, yeah, it also is the law.

4.  Do not pass me on the slickest part of the road while you are talking on your cell phone. You can call your friends later when you are waiting for the tow truck to pull you out of the ditch.

OK, that’s enough of my rant. Time to think spring!

Here a few of our garden pictures from last summer to get you in the mood.

everything is coming up daisies



meditation pond



looking for worms


Peace & solidarity,



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       superhighway before its super       


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,



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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,


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

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