I was pleased to be joined by Rep. James Oberstar, a Minnesota Congressman who chairs the house Transportation Committee where this legislation will be debated. Also joining us to listen to a range of expert voices on transportation were Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Betty McCollum, Rep. Keith Ellison, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.
For those who aren't familiar with this insider terminology, surface transportation is a collection of transportation alternatives that includes highways, railways, transitways, and waterways. Every few years, Congress establishes national policy on these transportation modes in what is called the reauthorization process.
Because it sets our transportation priorities for several years, this is not small potatoes. And that's why we want to hear from the experts.
- Livable communities
- State of good repair
- Environmental sustainability
- Economic competitiveness
You'll hear more about this process and our Listening Tour stops in the coming months. So please stay tuned.
Now, one project that works to advance our livability and sustainability priorities is the Central Corridor. This is a 9.8 mile light rail transit line between the downtowns of the twin cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul.
It is the largest public works undertaking in Minnesota history. And I had the pleasure of touring it with officials from both St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Thanks to our recent decision to balance cost-effectiveness criteria with other transit criteria, we are able to help fund three additional stops on this line. These crucial stops are in underserved and lower income communities and will allow a lot of workers to get to their jobs without the burden of owning cars or trudging extra distances through the Minnesota snow.
It would have been ridiculous for these communities--who need public transit so badly--to have to watch a rail line to which they had no station access get built right through their neighborhoods.
About the Central Corridor and the three new stations, St. Paul City Council Member Melvin Carter (above) said:
"This is a victory for our community. We'll build our future here on this rail corridor."That is exactly what planning around livability can mean to a community. And that is why we are restoring these criteria to the transit grant mix.