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Wrapping up the Minnesota release of the Blueprint

P1000963 Originally uploaded by Transportation for America

On Monday, June 29th the Minnesota Coalition of Transportation for America welcomed community, city, and state leaders to learn more about the T4 America vision for the next federal transportation bill — and how Minnesotans would benefit from a reformed federal transportation program.

The event, hosted by the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis, was attended by city officials, state legislators, congressional offices, business leaders, labor groups and advocacy organizations from across the state. The packed room heard from Anne Canby and Mariia Zimmerman, the Washington, D.C. representatives of the T4 America campaign, as they walked through the campaign’s Route to Reform, a detailed blueprint for the transportation bill.

The meeting came on the heels of Chairman Oberstar releasing a draft 775-page transportation bill he hopes to pass before the current federal bill expires in September.  In describing how Oberstar’s bill fits in with the T4 America vision, Anne Canby said that the draft is “on the right track,” and that “Oberstar is full of fire and ready to go. He has filled a vacuum with his leadership.”

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin and State Representative Frank Hornstein highlighted how Minnesota communities would benefit from sweeping reforms in the transportation bill. In describing the need for new federal transportation policy as proposed by the T4 America campaign, Mayor Rybak indicated that “we shouldn’t strive for less” but that Minneapolis and the State have to be ready for it.  Michael Lander, a developer with many projects around the Twin Cities, also spoke about the need to include land use discussions when planning any transportation project because “transportation has always driven development.” He noted that the T4 America vision is “planning to meet the coming demand” for housing in convenient, walkable locations with access to public transportation.

“The market is changing dramatically, and walkable urbanism is what the market is looking for. …Central to the T4 America reform is planning to meet the coming demand.”
— Michael Lander

In attendance were representatives from Chairman Oberstar’s office, Congressman Ellison and Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s offices.  State legislators, including Rep. Hausman and Rep. Kahn, county commissioners and city staffers from St. Paul and Minneapolis were among the crowd eager to hear about the work being done to create federal transportation policy that would benefit their communities.

It was not a strictly metropolitan affair as the Mayor of Independence and a representative from State Sen. Clark’s office from St. Cloud came to hear about how smaller and more rural communities could also get their transportation needs addressed in the federal bill.

One concern all of the elected officials shared was making sure Minnesota’s roads, highways and bridges were in a state of good repair.  Rep. Hornstein noted that we cannot invest in a “fax machine on the dawn of the internet revolution” indicating that we need to reach what he calls “infrastructure 2.0.”

“Infrastructure 2.0 is what is in this Transportation for America plan.”