Klobuchar and Oberstar Discuss Transportation Policy
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar joined Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (MN-8) at a town hall forum that focused on transportation policy challenges and opportunities. The forum was part of a country wide tour organized by the Department of Transportation to gather local input in advance of the surface transportation reauthorization bill. Representative Keith Ellison (MN-5), Representative Betty McCollum (MN-4), St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak also participated in the event held at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute.
“Our 21st century economy demands a 21st century transportation network,” said Klobuchar. “For far too long, we have neglected the roads, bridges and mass transit that millions of Americans rely on every day. By strengthening our partnership today, we’ll be laying the ground work to further address Minnesota’s – and the nation’s – transportation needs.”
In her remarks, Senator Klobuchar underscored the need for transportation improvements as made evident by the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis that claimed the lives of 13 people in August 2007. According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than 25 percent of the nation’s 600,000 bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
Klobuchar also highlighted the role of surface transportation in the nation’s economy. Americans spend 4.2 billion hours a year stuck in traffic at a cost to the economy of $78.2 billion, or $710 per motorist. The surface transportation bill will provide an opportunity to relieve congestion while creating jobs and that the Federal Highway Administration estimates that every $1 billion of highway spending creates nearly 35,000 new jobs.
Klobuchar also stated the importance of having a balanced transportation policy that incorporates multi-modal options, smart planning decisions, safety and technology. However, she cautioned that transportation solutions are not one-size-fits-all, and that she will be focused on addressing the needs of rural, suburban and urban Minnesotans.
Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which is responsible for the nation’s highways and bridges; and the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over high-speed and passenger rail and transportation safety. The surface transportation reauthorization legislation is a multi-year authorization bill that outlines policy and funding priorities for numerous surface transportation programs, such as highways, bridges, transit, freight, safety and research.