Minnesota's Transportation Issues of the 21st Century

By KBJR News 1

March 13, 2013 Updated Mar 13, 2013 at 7:22 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Many experts in the field of transportation are reaching the same consensus: in this day and age, the largest challenge modern–day modes of transportation are facing is the issue of efficient, and economic, connectivity between urban and rural areas.

According to former Minnesota Congressman and Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, James Oberstar, 75% of the nation's population lives on 3% of the land, in highly urbanized areas.

Half of all traffic fatalities occur on rural roads, however, and half of those fatalities are at the hands of urban residents on unfamiliar back roads.

"We need to harness the engine of economic growth—the cities of America, and of the world—to rural America, and to the greater state of Minnesota, using all modes of transportation," said Oberstar.

That includes reducing dependence on the automobile, incorporating more high–speed railways from the country to the city, and street cars to effectively move the masses in highly populated urban areas.

Oberstar says the motives are environmentally, and economically, sound, ".to facilitate the movement of people, and reduce the $120 billion dollar–a–year congestion tax that's shouldered on urban Americans, and free of the energy of this country."

Oberstar also says he also has his eyes turned toward the water.

When it comes to Great Lakes transportation and shipping opportunities, Oberstar says 40% of the U.S.'s exports, 35% of its agriculture, and 1/3 of its container exports originate in Great Lakes states. But less than one half of one percent of all container goods move through them.

"That's an opportunity and a challenge for us to create jobs [and] economic growth," said Oberstar.

It's an opportunity that Duluth Seaway Port Authority facilities manager Jim Sharrow says the port is on board with.

"This is an opportunity for the maritime side, in particular, to relate the issues that are the most troubling and difficult to solve out there that could truly benefit from research," said Sharrow.

...considering all options when moving forward with our nation's transportation.

A current Minnesota Department of Transportation study of the future of transportation is including maritime shipping for the first time.

- Posted to the Web by Billy Wagness