28 October 2009

Kleis and Clark bridge the political divide

Almost two years ago, in the anxious wake of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, bridge inspectors determined that flaws merited shutting down the so-called "De Soto/Highway 23" bridge in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The news was bad - it would be seven (7) years before reconstruction of a heavily travelled bridge.  No help was forthcoming from Washington.

In St. Paul, legislators at the State Capitol dealing with budget shortfalls  - and despite a governor famously opposed to transportation spending - nonetheless found the will and the resources to replace this bridge seen as vital to the community. They got traffic moving again not in seven years, but in less than two.

The new bridge, the “Granite City Crossing,” is a tribute to the persistence of state and local legislators, and local contractors, working with no help from Washington on a project they knew was important to nearby residents and businesses. Tomorrow (Thursday, 29 Oct 2009) the crossing will re-open to vehicular traffic. Sure, members of the Minnesota delegation to the U.S. Congress were on hand for the dedication; but the initiative and drive, the funding that made it a reality, are a credit to dedicated local politicians, such as St. Cloud's Mayor, Dave Kleis who'd spent seven years at the Capitol as Assistant Minnesota Senate Minority Leader and Minnesota state Senator Tarryl Clark. It was local commitment and leadership that solved this problem for their community.

Pictures of ribbon cuttings don't put people to work - fundamentally sound priorities such as investing in returning this bridge to service, and the courage to find money to invest in our infrastructure even in difficult financial times instead of lining the pockets of special interests, are precisely the qualities we deserve from elected officials at any level. People who act for the good of their neighbors and community are to be applauded - and encouraged to do more.

When politicians overcome partisan political posturing - when they bridge that divide - the consistent winners are the citizens they represent.

1 comment:

Margaret said...

We needed that bridge in St Cloud for the public's safety & Michelle Bachmann rejects any federal assistance for local necessities -- she doesn't even want Minnesotans counted on the U.S. Census that was mandated in the Constitution !!