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Alliance urges more talk on road funding in election

The Minnesota Transportation Alliance hopes transportation funding will be a driving factor at ballot boxes this fall. The alliance, a statewide coalition of nearly 300 organizations, including business, labor, local government bodies and the con...

The Minnesota Transportation Alliance hopes transportation funding will be a driving factor at ballot boxes this fall.

The alliance, a statewide coalition of nearly 300 organizations, including business, labor, local government bodies and the construction industry, sponsored a meeting Tuesday in Moorhead.

About 40 people attended. Among them were western Minnesota business people, government officials and five candidates for the state House.

The alliance is hosting a series of meetings across the state. The intent is to highlight the importance of transportation and funding for it, said Margaret Donahoe, the alliance's legislative director.

Statewide, the state needs new investment in transportation of $12.85 billion, of which $1.53 billion is funded, according to information from the alliance.

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In coming years, state lawmakers will need to consider several options to generate more money for transportation, including indexing the gas tax and boosting the sales tax on motor vehicles, the alliance said.

Five legislative candidates appeared Monday in Moorhead.

They were Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth; Rep. Dean Simpson, R-New York Mills; Rep. Bernie Lieder, DFL-Crookston; Lauri Winterfeldt-Shanks, a Moorhead Democrat running for the 9A House seat; and Larry Zilliox, an Alexandria Democrat who's running for the 11A House seat.

Lieder and Simpson said they regularly hear from constituents about education and health care, but seldom about transportation.

Still, transportation is one of the most vital issues facing state government, said Lieder, DFL leader on the House Transportation Finance Committee.

Winterfeldt-Shanks said a good transportation system is essential to Moorhead's economic development.

"What business will want to come here if we don't invest in infrastructure?" she asked.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530

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