On Monday, we reported in Are we going to fix these bridges or let our legislators play political games in St. Paul? about the Minnesota 2015 Bridge Report from the Transportation for America coalition that delineates the sad state of some of Minnesota's bridges.
In Wednesday's West Central Tribune, Tom Cherveny reports in Local officials urge legislators to move on transportation:
. . . Kandiyohi County commissioner [Harlan Madsen] joined other local officials Tuesday from Willmar and Swift County and representatives of the Move MN coalition to urge legislators to craft a deal to increase transportation funding in the remaining two weeks of the session.
Margaret Donahoe and Dave Van Hattum of Move MN came to the Willmar city offices to make their case for action, armed with a newly released, nonpartisan report on the condition of bridges in the country.
. . . The report cited seven structurally deficient bridges in Swift County, but that number was updated before County Commissioner Gary Hendrickx of Appleton could reach Willmar.
An email from the county engineer informed him there are 13 structurally deficient bridges, he said.
The report counts 20 structurally deficient bridges in Renville County, and 16 in Chippewa County.
Donahoe and Van Hattum warned that these and other transportation problems will only grow if the state does not increase funding.
“You will not see much improvement on Highway 23 over the next 20 years according to MnDOT’s 20-year highway investment plans unless there is some new revenue,’’ Donahoe said.
Safety and economic development are at stake, according to those attending the meeting. Willmar Planning and Development Director Bruce Peterson noted that Willmar’s population of adults doubles during the workday.
The city’s economic development and the region’s as well are very much tied to the ability of workers to commute to employment in the community.
Hendrickx said there is growing public support for a greater investment in transportation.
He cited a recent Swift County project: The county commissioners opted to spend $400,000 more so that a six-mile road project could be a 10-ton rather than 7-ton roadway.
“We did not hear the outcry of you should not be spending it,’’ said Hendrickx. “We heard the affirmation this is where you have to be going.’’
Move MN is hopeful that the two parties in the Legislature can come to an agreement in the final days, according to Bethany Winkels, Move MN field director. If not, she warns that it would not be until January of 2016 and more likely the 2017 session before an increase in transportation funding could be accomplished. . . .
For a colorful Madsen story, and the rest of the details from the article, check it out at the West Central Tribune. The Kandiyohi Count commissioner made a cameo appearance a month ago in our post, Kandiyohi Co commish: Starving our roads and bridges until the cows come home and drop dead.
Photo: The historic Milan Bridge, which must be restored as a landmark or replaced.
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