Medina, Independence mayors want legislators to focus on transportation funding

by Amanda Schwarze

The Pioneer

More than 25 mayors around the state are asking state legislators to make transportation a funding priority this year. Among them are Long Lake Mayor Tim Hultmann, Medina Mayor Elizabeth Weir and Independence Mayor Marvin Johnson.

Hultmann is among those who are supporting the Move MN coalition’s aim to have state lawmakers pass a comprehensive transportation package during the 2014 legislative session. Hultmann said that his support of the cause is his alone as mayor and that he is not speaking for the Long Lake City Council on this issue.

Hultmann said that he is concerned about the County Road 112 turn back project. The reconstruction and redesign of old Highway 12 through Orono and Long Lake was originally scheduled to begin in 2015, but a lack of funding has pushed back the expected start date to 2017. There is no guarantee that work will begin in 2017, though, and the project could potentially be pushed back again.

Hultmann said that Move MN is looking for comprehensive funding that will benefit the entire state – not just light rail or projects in inner-ring suburban communities.

In all, 27 mayors from around the state have showed their support as have the cities of Edina, Fridley, Hopkins, Hutchinson, Medina, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Richfield, Rosemount, St. Anthony and St. Paul.

“Without a safe and reliable transportation system, our businesses cannot effectively and efficiently deliver goods to market, and our people cannot get to their jobs and back home again without facing crippling congestion. The shared prosperity and quality of life we all strive for in Minnesota relies upon all of us making necessary and significant investments in our roads, bridges and transit systems statewide,” noted Edina Mayor Jim Hovland in a Move MN press release. “As mayors, we don’t get to make those investment decisions, but as leaders of cities all across our state, we are calling upon our legislators, metropolitan and rural, Republican and Democrat, to join together and make funding our transportation system a priority investment this year. Such an investment will pay dividends for all of us for generations to come and help Minnesota achieve the greatness that is so close at hand.”

The Move MN coalition is looking for a funding package that includes roads, bridges, transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and that balances the needs of the metro area and greater Minnesota.

The coalition supports a new sales tax on wholesale fuel. The group also supports closing the sales tax loophole on leased vehicles. In 2006, voters supported a constitutional amendment to dedicate the existing motor vehicle sales tax to transportation, but that amendment did not include sales tax revenue from leased vehicles.

More information on Move MN is available at www.movemn.org.

Contact Amanda Schwarze at amanda.schwarze@ecm-inc.com

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