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Will the Move MN Campaign actually get Minnesotans moving?

Aftermath of I35 bridge collapse
Aftermath of I35 bridge collapse
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Today, the Saint Paul City Council will move to support the Move MN Campaign. According to their website, they are a “diverse, growing coalition” committed to erasing “Minnesota’s transportation deficit and creating new funding that will enable the state to properly maintain and improve transportation assets that expand access and opportunity for all, and create living wage jobs.”

The website does not indicate who is involved nor does it indicate solutions they might propose to the Minnesota Legislature in terms of new funding.

Likely, the coalition consists of the usual suspects- unions, construction companies, business associations or chambers of commerce.

Minnesota’s transportation budget has been underfunded in recent years. After the 2007 collapse of the I-35 bridge, a special inspections of bridges and highways was completed by MNDOT. The findings were that hundreds of bridges and roads were structurally deficient.

Transportation was not a priority in the 2013 legislative session. Ideas were tossed about like raising the gasoline tax or a metro-wide sales tax for mass transit. Both ideas were rejected, however. Per a "MinnPost" article last year, Governor Dayton did not want to increase taxes on gas until more public education had been done. At least there is a hint at where funding might come from-- tax increases versus cuts to other programs.

If we want to live in a state that has low unemployment and livable wages, we need to start with the basics. Efficient modes of transportation that get people to their jobs conveniently and allow them to return home effectively to spend time with family does improve quality of life.

Will the Move MN Campaign improve quality of life? Time will tell. Most of the time, lobby groups have their own interests at heart and if some benefit to the general population trickles down, well, that is a bonus.

Construction companies and the unions will likely see benefits immediately from increased funding to build and improve roads and bridges. Other special interest groups that want things like street cars and bike lanes may also benefit, especially if they join this coalition.

However, what do the citizens of the state want? In 2000, "The Onion," a satirical publication, wrote “98 percent of U.S. commuters favor public transportation for others.” Most satire is based on some truth. As the Move MN Campaign gains more traction, one would hope that the engineers working on these projects are able to engage in such a way that they will see themselves moving in the projects they help design.

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