Friday, August 3, 2007

The 2005 Federal Transportation Bill and Minnesota

The last major federal highway bill was passed in 2005, and featured 6,361 "special projects" aka earmarks.

According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, 147 of these went to the state of Minnesota in the amount of $449 million:
  • $354 million went to road and bridge projects
  • $74 million went to public transit
  • $48 million went to...trails?
  • $19 million went to the University of Minnesota system
  • 1.9 million went to visitor centers
  • $1.5 million went to "joint public works and facility" projects

Specifically, I-35 received funds for 6 projects in the Metro (Minn-St. Paul) MDOT district in the amount of $27.2 million:

  • $800,000 for the design of an interchange with Main Street in Lino Lakes
  • $2.4 million for the design of an new interchange in Forest Lake
  • $5.6 million for the construction of ramps and a new bridge over I-35 in Chisago County
  • $7.6 million for Lake Street access to I-35 in Minneapolis
  • $5.8 million for I-35 East reconstruction from I-94 to Maryland Avenue in St. Paul
  • $5 million for I-35 East reconstruction from University Avenue to Maryland Avenue in St. Paul

What we can conclude from this, is that it's definitely NOT a problem of the federal government not chipping in to the state. It's a problem of the state, its politicians and its department of transportation wasting a more than generous federal handout on worthless crap that they should be paying for themselves (like trails, bus stations, the university system), and not using it on what it was originally intended for, interstate highways and bridges.

If there was ever a time to push for further earmark reform, I'd think this would be it. $48 million in federal transportation dollars being earmarked for trails when bridges are known to be in danger is a travesty.

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