MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Tim Walz visited one of the most dangerous intersections in the state to highlight Minnesota’s deteriorating roads and bridges.
The governor said he left the State Capitol so people can see how bad the roads and bridges are, expressing frustration at Republican lawmakers who are pushing back against his gas tax hike to pay for it.
Walz inspected potholes in Anoka near a railroad crossing that carries oil trains and blocks traffic many times a day. Freight trains block this busy thoroughfare a couple of times an hour, creating long traffic lines and frustrated drivers.
“I missed a doctor’s appointment because I got there 20 minutes late,” Joe Peregrin, of Ramsey, said. “I had to wait two months to get another appointment.”
Walz met with a highway pothole crew fighting a losing battle with Minnesota’s winter nemesis, making the case the legislature must act now, or roads and bridges will get worse.
“This is a conversation about having a transportation system that we need and want, or not having,” Walz said.
Walz is proposing a sweeping transportation plan with big ticket projects like a $45 million Ferry Street railroad overpass. However, he’s getting push-back from Republicans over the price tag: a 20-cent gas tax hike over four years and higher vehicle fees.
“‘No’ will not build an overpass. ‘No’ will not fix the potholes. And ‘no’ is what you’ve gotten for the last 50 years,” Walz said.
The Anoka district is represented by Republican Senator Jim Abeler, who opposes a gas tax hike. In a statement, he said: “The funds to solve this problem will not require raising the gas tax, the sales tax or car tab fees.”
Some in the long line of drivers WCCO’s Pat Kessler talked with agreed.
“I don’t believe in raising taxes,” Rick Kouri, of Princeton, said. “There’s a surplus. Use it.”