Letter to the Editor: Building the best roads in America

Published 5:27 pm Friday, May 3, 2024

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Minnesota’s roads are in good shape. In fact, last month they were rated the safest and smoothest in the nation by Consumer Affairs.

But they don’t get that way by accident. Maintaining and rebuilding roads and bridges takes years of planning, blueprints, inspections – and most importantly – investment.

Last week we celebrated a day that I’d looked toward for years: we broke ground on a project to replace and repair bridges at six sites along Interstate 90 in Austin.

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These I-90 renovations are focused on providing safe transportation between downtown Austin and neighboring communities that rely on the interstate – whether for Hormel employees traveling to work, trucks transporting corn to the ethanol plant near Lyle, or families driving to and from school and their jobs. Because bridges are more than just concrete and steel – they’re connections.

This three-year $50 million project represents a major partnership between local, state, and federal governments. And it is one of the first Minnesota groundbreakings on projects funded in part by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

There is nothing like the feeling of shoveling the first mound of dirt at a groundbreaking and the excitement of seeing projects like these bridges come to fruition. But it’s more than just an opportunity to wear a hardhat. Recent events in Pittsburgh and Baltimore remind us that investing in safe, quality infrastructure saves lives.

That’s why investing in infrastructure has been a major priority for my administration. It’s why I have signed the two largest infrastructure bills in state history into law.

And it’s deeply personal to me. This celebration comes on the heels of another major milestone for southern Minnesota – the completion of the Highway 14 improvement and expansion, a highway long considered one of the most dangerous in the country. It was on this highway that I lost a neighbor.

Investments like I-90 and Highway 14 will prevent such losses for countless families. And it represents what we can do when we put politics aside and focus on building safer communities. When we talk about infrastructure, we can put aside our partisan differences. Together, we can ensure safe, accessible, and reliable transportation for all Minnesotans.

Governor Tim Walz