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Transit Organizations Condemn Governor's Bonding Vetos


St. Paul, MN (March 15, 2010)—A coalition of organizations (including Transit for Livable Communities, Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1005, Fresh Energy, ISAIAH, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, Minnesota Public Transit Association, 1000 Friends of Minnesota, and the Sierra Club) condemn Governor Pawlenty’s choice to line-item veto public transit projects from the bonding/jobs bill as a choice that moves Minnesota in the wrong direction.

“This veto stalls progress on a truly multimodal transportation system that will drive Minnesota’s economy in the 21st century. The vetoed projects will have to move forward,” said Dave Van Hattum of Transit for Livable Communities, “—if not this year, then next in order to keep the state from gridlock.”

At a time when interest rates and construction bids are low, and Minnesotans are out of work, funding transit would have been the wise choice, creating jobs today by investing in the transit system for tomorrow. In addition, the Governor’s veto hinders Minnesota’s ability to compete for key matching federal funds for transitways. 

Among the specific items lost in this veto were park-n-ride facilities along the Red Rock and I-94 corridors and transit facilities along the Cedar Avenue corridor.

Washington County Commissioner Myra Peterson said, “The existing park and rides are full. Both park and ride projects were supported by the Counties Transit Improvement Board, the Met Council, Washington and Ramsey Counties, and the communities involved.”

Building these projects would have created immediate jobs and saved Minnesotans money. “With gas prices and air-quality alerts on the rise, new park-n-ride locations also would keep hard-earned dollars in Minnesotans’ wallets and reduce congestion,” Van Hattum said. In January, a new park-n-ride opened in Anoka to overwhelming success. The Met Council reported recently that there is great, unmet demand for transit: more than three times the number of current transit riders say they would like to ride transit if they could.

Transit projects lead to substantial job creation, allow Minnesota residents to get to work in an economical fashion, and drive economic growth. They provide access and congestion relief for drivers—in both cars and trucks—allowing people and goods to move through the metropolitan region, where more than three-fourths of recent statewide population growth has occurred.

Mn/DOT identified $29 million in Greater Minnesota bonding needs that included Mankato, Rochester, Duluth, Northfield and Stewartville. Bus service provides critical connections for Greater Minnesota residents, which is why Mn/DOT listed Greater Minnesota Transit in their top three bonding priorities.

“We applaud the House and Senate for passing a bonding bill that would effectively put people back to work,” Van Hattum said, “We regret Governor Pawlenty’s choice to veto transit projects that would benefit Minnesota’s immediate and long-term economy and all of its residents.”


Shut-down Crisis Reveals Desperate Need for Long-term Overhal of our Nation's Transportation Program


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                  
MARCH 1, 2010
Cosabeth Bullock, 202-478-6128
Ben Grossman-Cohen, 202-478-6185

With jobs, the economy our quality of life in the balance,
Congress must act now on authorization
WASHINGTON D.C. – As the national transportation program faces fiscal uncertainty today following Sen. Jim Bunning’s (R-KY) refusal to extend legislation to fund transportation and other national programs on Friday, James Corless, campaign director of Transportation 4 America, released the following statement:
“The problem is not simply that one Senator was able to thwart a crucial, timely vote. That lone Senator was able to shut down our nation’s transportation program only because Congress has left this essential underpinning of our economy on life-support for far too long. The highway trust fund we created to build the interstates in the 1950s simply is not up to the job of building and maintaining the system we need for the 21st century. This is not a backburner issue, even if Congress has been treating it as one.
“While we lurch, from extension to extension, with our transportation program teetering on the brink of insolvency, the rest of the world is not standing still. China is building a $500 billion rail network. Canada, whose hockey team just beat us for the gold medal, is beating us in building efficient urban transportation networks, even as our public transportation systems are being forced to slash service in the face of Congressional inaction.
“American jobs – millions of them -- are relying on the authorization of our transportation program. Americans everywhere depend on an efficient, safe and accessible network of roads and transit systems to get to work each day. If we are going to right this economy permanently, Congress must quickly address our nation’s outdated transportation program and ensure stable funding levels for public transportation, including operating assistance for struggling systems, for the repair and maintenance of our highways and bridges, and a robust investment in projects that will make  our communities sustainable for the long haul.”

Transportation 4 America is a broad coalition of housing, environmental, equal opportunity, public health, urban planning, transportation and other organizations focused on creating a 21st century national transportation program. The coalition’s goal is to build a modernized infrastructure and healthy communities where people can live, work and play by aligning national, state, and local transportation policies with an array of issues like economic opportunity, climate change, energy security, health, housing and community development.


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