Extensions aren't good enough for Minnesota

News AASHTO Journal December 27, 2004
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Citing important congestion relief and transportation projects jeopardized by the lack of federal multi-year surface transporta

Citing important congestion relief and transportation projects jeopardized by the lack of federal multi-year surface transportation funding, Minnesota Lt. Gov. and Transportation Commissioner Carol Molnau is urging her Congressional delegation to move a bill early in the 109th Congress.


Congress convenes for its 109th session on Jan. 4, and the sixth extension of federal transportation funding to states expires on May 31.


In a November 24 letter to Minnesota's 10-member Congressional delegation, Molnau wrote, "The lack of a reauthorization bill and the piecemeal fashion in which funding has been distributed to states under the short-term extensions have had significant negative impacts on Minnesota's transportation programs and on programs throughout the nation."


Molnau wrote that her state "lost an estimated $70 million in projected federal funding" in FY 2004 "and is on track to lose an estimated $80 million in FY 2005."


Two important highway projects in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area have been delayed a year, largely because of the unsure federal funding stream. The Minnesota Department of Transportation is working to improve traffic flow along I-694 and the eastern stretch of I-35. The state also is building a new interchange for I-494 and its intersection with Highway 169.


"MnDOT is just completing its largest highway construction program in state history and the bulk of our construction schedule is holding firm. However, our efforts to minimize the impacts of federal funding delays and long-term uncertainty will only become more difficult the longer Congress waits to act."


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