MnDOT head discusses rail underpass funding proposal with Moorhead leaders

A train stops road traffic as it crosses 11th Street in Moorhead Tuesday, March 5. WDAY photo

MOORHEAD — The Minnesota Department of Transportation's top official met with Moorhead city leaders Tuesday, March 5, to tout the potential benefits Democratic Gov. Tim Walz's proposed 20 cent per gallon gas tax hike could have for local infrastructure projects, including a proposed rail underpass in the city.

MnDOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher met with Moorhead Mayor Johnathan Judd, Fire Chief Rich Duysen and other city leaders at the city's main fire station to discuss the benefits of a proposed 11th Street North underpass and how more transportation funding could make it a reality sooner.

The city of Moorhead in 2018 made it a legislative priority to secure partial state funding for the proposed $52 million project, which city leaders say would benefit local businesses and emergency response times.

"The transportation package that Gov. Walz has proposed is about mobility and getting people around safely and effectively," Kelliher, a Walz appointee, said at the meeting.

Walz has promised to boost funding for Minnesota's transportation system, which according to a recent study is deteriorating with age. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave Minnesota roads a "D plus" rating and bridges a "C" on its 2018 report card for the state .


To fund construction and repairs, Walz in a February budget proposal called for a 20 cent per gallon state gas tax hike and other new fees, which he said could bring the state about $18 billion for transportation projects over the next 20 years.

The budget proposal would have to pass both the Democrat-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate before Walz could sign it into law, enacting the tax hike.

Republicans in the state Legislature say they will try to block the tax.

"It's not something that we're going to just move to the middle on," Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, told reporters at a February news conference in St. Paul after learning of Walz's proposal.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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