President's TIGER grants benefit the Twin Ports

By KBJR News 1

February 26, 2014 Updated Feb 26, 2014 at 11:23 PM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - President Obama told a crowd of 1,300 people on Wednesday his vision is a no-brainer.

"One of the fastest and best ways to create new jobs is by rebuilding America's infrastructure," President Obama said.

The proposal calls for big dollars to improve the safety of highways, bridges and railways.

"Rebuilding our infrastructure is vital to business, creates good paying jobs, that cannot be outsourced, this is one of Congress's major responsibilities, helping states and city's fund new infrastructure projects."

The president is asking for $300 billion to lock in another four years of stable funding for transportation.

He says it's needed now more than ever.

"Everybody knows, any nobody knows better than Minnesotans, when we've gone through a winter like this, roads are wrecked full of potholes all across the country," the president said.

President Obama spoke at the newly renovated union depot because it was the recipient of the first round of Tiger grants in 2010.

That same money was used for one project vital to the Twin Ports.

The federal grant in the amount of $10 million was awarded to the Duluth Seaway Port Authority last fall to improve the infrastructure the port of Duluth-Superior and add rail infrastructure.

President Obama is proposing another round of TIGER grants.

"A lot of these TIGER grants are multi-modal and stitched together with other funding and make other great projects happen like We've seen in the port of Duluth," said Charles Zelle, Minnesota commissioner of transportation.

DFL Senator Scott Dibble says the timing of the President's visit couldn't be better as Minnesota lawmakers propose a transportation bill of their own.

"I mean if we don't put any more money into our transportation system, everything we have is going to deteriorate, we're just not keeping up with what we've got, much less getting ahead of the game to invest in the economy of the future," said Sen. Scott Dibble, chair of the transportation finance and policy committee.

It's a future the president says could be grim if Congress doesn't act soon.

Half of the president's proposal could be funded by simplifying tax codes, but says he's open for suggestions.

He expects his plan will create a millions new jobs.