Minnesota lawmakers are turning up the heat on the state’s major railroads to do something to alleviate congestion that’s costing the state millions of dollars.
Like an accordion of massive steel boxes, 15 empty freight cars lay piled Friday along a stretch of Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad track. It’s BNSF’s mainline to the west coast, and it averages about 56 trains a day. Roughly twenty percent of that traffic is made up of the long tanker cars hauling heavy crude oil from North Dakota.
A large coalition of transportation, business and labor interests called Tuesday for a new 5 percent sales tax on fuel in Minnesota to help raise money for roads and transit projects.
As Minnesota’s legislative session nears, one of the state’s minimum-wage champions has issued a challenge. Five House colleagues accepted Golden Valley Democrat Rep. Ryan Winkler’s invitation Tuesday to live for a week on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
Minnesota drivers using cell phones are distracted, and sometimes deadly. Craig Carlson and Ron Rajkowski were killed in 2011 by a distracted driver in a construction zone who was traveling at a high speed. Carlson’s widow, Deb Carlson of Ramsey, says her husband was killed in an instant. “[The] car that was traveling at 70 miles per hour,” Carlson said.
Democratic lawmakers who lead House transportation panels are seeking a menu of transportation tax and fee hikes including a five-cent increase in the state gas tax.