No Minnesotan will forget the day the I-35W Bridge collapsed. It was a tragedy that served as a wakeup call to us all about the state of our nation’s infrastructure, and it prompted an immediate review of all our state’s bridges.
One bridge, built similarly and with the same structural deficiencies, was located right in my hometown. St. Cloud’s Highway 23 bridge was single-span and its gusset plates were warped, just like the bridge in Minneapolis. The bridge was a real threat to the safety of our community. As a result, it was immediately shut down.
Yet despite this threat and the lessons that should have been learned from the I-35W Bridge collapse, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann refused to secure the funding needed to replace this bridge, a critical transportation artery in our community.
Without leadership from our Member of Congress, I worked with local Republicans and legislative leaders to secure the state funds necessary to build a replacement. Not a single federal dollar was spent on the new, safe Granite City Crossing.
You can imagine many St. Cloud residents’ surprise, then, when Congresswoman Bachmann showed up to the ribbon cutting for the Granite City Crossing – a bridge she did nothing to help rebuild.
I guess we shouldn’t have been all that surprised. She did the same thing when the Northstar Rail Line opened. Despite vocally opposing this important transit network through our district, Bachmann showed up to the ribbon cutting all the same.
Being an elected representative isn’t about cutting ribbons and mugging for the cameras. Ribbon cuttings happen after the real work is already done. We are elected to be tireless advocates for our communities and our constituents. When our communities come to us with a critical need – whether it’s repairing an unsafe bridge or expanding transportation options for area residents – it is our job to work with state, local and federal partners to get the job done.
I was a transportation advocate in the Minnesota Senate because I know that quality, safe transportation networks are essential to the economic vitality of our communities. And I support critical investments in infrastructure not only because these projects create much-needed jobs across our state, but they also provide a reliable network for moving goods and people, contributing to long-term growth. Our communities thrive when we are connected with those around us – locally, regionally, and globally.
In Congress, I will work with House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar to make sure we continue to invest in critical infrastructure projects in our district, which in turn will grow jobs and ensure that our communities stay connected. Unlike Michele Bachmann, I know the difference between wasteful government spending and investing in the future of our communities.
And unlike Congresswoman Bachmann, I’ll be less interested in ribbon cutting ceremonies and more interested in cutting across the partisan divide to get something good done for the people I am elected to represent.