It is not only frustrating to be stuck in traffic jams, but it also costs us money and time with our families, and it hurts our businesses. Prior to 2008, key transportation revenues had not been re-adjusted for inflation since the transportation bill of 1988, twenty years earlier. As a result, in the late 1990s, we started falling noticeably behind in construction and maintenance due to revenue constraints, and it reached near crisis proportions in the last five years, exemplified by funding and scheduling fiascos with the Wakota Bridge and the Crosstown interchange redesign.
After the 2007 attempt at a $1B/year Transportation Bill failed, the continuing neglect of transportation was brought glaringly into focus by the 35W bridge catastrophe. I voted for the 2008 Road and Bridge Safety Improvement Act to keep our businesses moving, and our families safe and home for dinner on time. This Bill, and the veto over-ride, had the support of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, county and city elected officials from the district, and both major metro daily newspapers.
The 2008 Road and Bridge Safety Improvement Act provided about 2/3rds of the $1billion per year shortfall the Governor, MnDOT leadership, and outside experts all claimed was necessary in fall of 2006. More recent estimates placed that shortfall as high as $1.7-2.2 billion per year, so the $660 million per year ($6.6B over 10 years) achieved by the 2008 bill was far from the profligate measure claimed by the bill's critics. Then Governor Pawlenty's alternative transportation funding proposal offered $277 million per year, and it was all borrowed.
The 2008 Comprehensive Transportation Bill
*Erased deficits at MnDOT and accelerated construction.
*Reduced pressure on our property taxes by allocating more transportation money to our counties and cities.
*Prioritized fracture critical bridges and expedited the construction timeline of the new St Croix River Crossing bridge by 11 years, moving it up from 2025 to 2014. It provided the funds to build the new bridge (the Minnesota portion).