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MN Mayors Pushing for More Bike, Walking Path Funding

More than 40 Minnesota mayors want state lawmakers to include adequate funding for new bike and walking paths in the next transit budget. (iStockphoto)
More than 40 Minnesota mayors want state lawmakers to include adequate funding for new bike and walking paths in the next transit budget. (iStockphoto)
May 18, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Lawmakers are debating this week how Minnesota should invest millions of dollars into fixing and upgrading the state's roads and bridges.

A group of more than 40 mayors is urging the legislature to include dollars to make it safer for foot and bike traffic to get around Minnesota.

According to the Minnesota Mayoral Active Transportation Caucus, city and county leaders have a backlog of more than $1 billion in projects for sidewalks, curb ramps, safer intersections and bike routes.

Falcon Heights Mayor Peter Lindstrom says these upgrades are sorely needed in Greater Minnesota.

"It's certainly not just for big cities, it's for cities of all sizes," says Lindstrom. "I bike to work every single day. You know, when we look around, we see our infrastructure deteriorating. We have to have an all-of-the-above approach when it comes to transportation."

On Tuesday, House Republicans offered up their own road plan, which includes $100 million in new car-tab fees.

Meanwhile, Gov. Mark Dayton's plan would rely on a car-tab increase of $400 million to pay for road upgrades.

Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht says her town's tourist economy relies heavily on up-to-date bike and walking paths. But she says average family incomes for Bemidji are about $12,000 less a year than other state residents, which leaves some people unable to afford a car.

"We have a lot of people that walk and bike to work and to school," says Albrecht. "And so, we want to make sure that they have a safe route to get where they're going. We think our infrastructure needs to be available for everybody."

Lawmakers have until midnight Sunday to decide on how the state will fund its transportation projects for the coming year.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN