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Expanded transportation bill seems to be on a road to nowhere this session

A bill that would have made major transportation and improvements looks like it’s going nowhere fast this session, reports the Forum News Service.

Lawmakers who had big hopes for the bill are saying: Maybe next year.

This year, it’s more likely to be a status quo transportation bill that won’t address priorities like reconstruction of Hwy. 14 in southern Minnesota, expansion of Interstate 94 to ease congestion between the Minneapolis suburbs and St. Cloud, a Minnesota 23 project near Willmar and a U.S. 169 rework between Tower and Ely, AP says.

The problem is a funding hole that appeared when Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday he won’t support a gas tax increase that supporters were counting on to pay for the improvements.

Transportation advocates are disappointed that some of the hoped-for improvements don’t appear to be coming, the Forum story said:

“If we don’t increase funding, we will fall behind,” Minnesota Transportation Alliance Director Margaret Donahoe said.

She said transit organizations will have to cut services and infrastructure will suffer.

“In greater Minnesota, in particular, we have enormous needs,” Minnesota Public Transit Association lobbyist Sherry Munyon said, adding that the organization is disappointed that transit expansions will not happen this year.

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