Governor Tim Walz testified in Washington D.C. about Minnesota’s infrastructure needs and priorities.
In a U.S. House Transportation Committee meeting, Walz recalled the I-35W bridge collapse and said, “Many of you on this committee were sitting here on a hot August day in 2007, while in Minneapolis, 111 cars sat in traffic on the I-35W bridge Mississippi River during rush hour. But at 6:05 pm their lives changed forever when our inability to keep up with infrastructure needs resulted in the catastrophic failure of that bridge.”
The collapse of the bridge over the Mississippi killed 13 people and injured 145. The federal government had declared the bridge structurally deficient in 2005 and listed it as possibly in need of replacement. It had been scheduled to be replaced in 2020.
Walz said there is a roughly $18 billion shortfall for maintenance of Minnesota’s highway infrastructure over the next 24 years and added, “That doesn’t include all the other modes of transportation.”
Minnesotans are willing to pay their fair share when they know it’s going to good use, he said, and is considering a state gas tax to boost transportation funding. Walz told lawmakers in Washington, “It’s usually pretty good advice, don’t run on raising people’s taxes, except in the instance of infrastructure. We ran the campaign talking about investing in that. We ran telling them that we needed that dedicated funding and not only did they respond to that, they responded overwhelmingly that this is something that they believed in.”
Minnesota Republicans are strongly opposed to funding road and bridge fixes with a gas tax.
He added that its on the minds of all in the National Governors Association and, “Not all governors in the N.G.A. agree on a gas tax, but all of those governors agree, that if we choose not to invest the cost will go up, the safety needs of our citizens will be put at risk and we will continue to fall further and further behind in trying to move forward into the 21st Century.”