By Marcella Corona
Minnesota's transportation needs were the focus of a Monday meeting between U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Anthony Foxx, the recently sworn-in U.S. secretary of transportation.
"The U.S. still scores a 'D' " in meeting its transportation needs, Klobuchar said. She met with Foxx in Minneapolis near the Interstate 35W bridge, which was rebuilt following a deadly collapse in 2007.
Both officials pledged to work with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to create part of a nationwide transportation system that's "the safest and most efficient in the world," said Foxx, a former mayor of Charlotte, N.C.
Repair costs for Minnesota's highway system -- the fifth largest in the nation -- are accelerating past budgets, leaving many roads unattended and in need of work, the officials noted.
Local governments and MnDOT spend an annual $5 billion on roads, bridges, bus and rail transit, and airports. One-fourth of the state's highway funding comes from federal aid. But with more than 140,000 miles of city, county, township and state roads, come material costs that have more than tripled since 1987, according to MnDOT. That includes costs for asphalt, concrete and steel. Prices are also rising for rights of way, labor and fuel for equipment.
"It's critical that we focus on our infrastructure," Foxx said. "It's not a matter of dollars and cents, it's a matter of lives."