St. Paul, MN (March 15, 2010)—A coalition of organizations 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.”