Rep. Benson authors bill to study transportation needs - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Rep. Benson authors bill to study transportation needs

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) --A bill proposed by Rep. Mike Benson, R-Rochester, would allocate $175,000 to hire a consultant to look at transportation in one of Minnesota's fastest growing cities.

"You know, Rochester is a town of 109,000 people but we have two million visitors," Benson said.

If Destination Medical Center becomes a reality those numbers are projected to multiply.

"What are our transportation needs if we have 35,000 more employees, extrapolate 75,000 - 80,000 more people, what is that congestion going to look like? What roads and bridges are going to be needed? What transit operations are going to be needed," Benson said.

Benson said the goal is to look at the need so that the city is then set up to carryout construction of transportation projects. The bill would allow for a consultant to look at everything from rail to roads and bridges to busing.

"This bill attempts to tie everything together and say what is the most efficient way to spend taxpayer's dollars and to alleviate what could potentially be quite a congestion if we do nothing," Benson said.

He claims as the area flourishes transportation will only become even more important for success.

"It's also essential to our neighboring communities, Stewartville, Dover-Eyota, Byron, Chatfield that we have the kind of roads and systems necessary to bring those employees in," Benson said.

He also hopes for bipartisan support. Benson says Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, chairman of the House Transportation Finance Committee, has expressed interest in the city's transportation situation.

Benson's plan would be paid for with $100,000 coming from the trunk highway fund and $75,000 coming from the general fund.

The bill will be heard as part of the omnibus transportation bill next week but a vote for final passage - if it's included in the bill - wouldn't come until May.

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