Letter to the Editor: Infrastructure legislation must be a priority

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, March 24, 2021

As an Emergency Manager, I have dedicated my career to protecting and preserving the safety of people living across our state. But I’m concerned because every year we are seeing increasingly severe weather and flooding. This means, that unless we are building our communities for future risk, we will see more of our friends and neighbors suffering from natural disasters.

One area we must focus on is transportation infrastructure. After years of underfunding, the nation’s aging transportation infrastructure is in dire need of major repairs and upgrades. Things like roads, bridges, tunnels, railways, canals and airports.

It has to be a priority because failing to do so puts people’s lives at risk and threatens our economy. If roads are flooded by record rainfall, trucks cannot deliver food. If air traffic is grounded for days by snow or ice, it slows package delivery and business. If a bridge or culvert has been washed out, emergency medical crews cannot help those in need. The list goes on.

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That’s why Congress should pass a transportation infrastructure bill that prioritizes resilience. This means projects should incorporate protective features to reduce the risk of recurring damage. Additionally, communities will need funding to do resilience planning so they know where to spend public dollars effectively. Lastly, states should be allowed to use funds from existing programs to support resilience measures.

This is the kind of forward-thinking planning, investing and building we must do to keep our communities safe in the years to come.

Rick Larkin

Bloomington, MN