Rybak pushes Congress for more transportation funding

The I-35W bridge collapse was not “an act of God, but a failure of man,” Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak told legislators while testifying today before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Rybak called for increased state and federal investments in transportation, saying that the bridge collapse showed the serious consequences of not investing in roads, bridges and transit.

The mayor endorsed increases to the state gas tax to fund road and bridge improvements as well as a regional sales tax dedicated to transit funding. He also said he supports a proposal by Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) to temporarily increase the federal gas tax to repair or replace bridges across the country.

He expressed concern that many states, including Minnesota, are increasingly financing their transportation programs with borrowed funds or by advancing the use of federal transportation dollars. Transportation plans aren’t adequately funded and the gap continues to grow, Rybak said.

“The lesson is clear. If you invest in quality government, you get quality results. If you don’t invest, there are consequences,” Rybak said.

In addition to his role as mayor, Rybak also testified as a representative of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The conference has supported an increase to the federal gas tax and other revenues to deal with transportation needs, he said.

“I can tell you that mayors across the country have sounded the alarm about the lack of investment in infrastructure, especially transportation, long before the I-35W bridge collapsed,” Rybak said.