MnDOT commissioner discusses Rochester's needs for transportatio - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

MnDOT commissioner discusses Rochester's needs for transportation funding


Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charles Zelle was in Rochester Friday talking about the need for transportation funding.

Zelle started his day at the Rochester Golf and Country Club for a presentation on funding for roads and bridges. 

With just a few days left in the legislative session, Zelle focused on the need for funding to maintain and expand infrastructure. He said the legislature must compromise to make this happen, and that it must happen this year.

"We just need adequate enough funding to both take care enough of aging pavements, aging bridges, but also find those places of strategic expansion that I think is what people are calling for," said Zelle.

Zelle is seeking $800 million on average per year over the next decade, with 60 percent of that money going to the state system and 40 percent to counties and municipalities. He says in order for that to happen, funding needs to com e from a variety of sources, like the proposed Republican general fund and Democratic proposed gas taxes.

Zelle also visited Signature Aviation where he met with local government officials to talk about a proposed project to upgrade the U.S. Customs facility at the Rochester International Airport. 

Currently the customs facility doesn't meet U.S. Customs and Border Protection standards. In order to do so the airport must expand space, safety, and security standards.

The airport has asked for $10.5 million to make the changes happen.

"It's very essential because we have 1.4 million visitors a year many come from international flights. Without the international airport they won't be coming," said Sen. Carla Nelson.

So far, the Governor has recommended the project in his budget and it is part of the Senate finance bill.

Nelson said she hopes the project's funding will be part of the Senate bonding bill that will be released Monday.

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