On Friday, April 5th, Chairman Hornstein spoke with local officials and business leaders at St. Michael City Hall about the I-94 expansion project. He praised the Coalition’s efforts and its organization, saying that a strong organization in support of a project is half the battle. He also discussed his plan for Corridors of Commerce and how it could provide additional funding for I-94 expansion and other projects throughout Minnesota.
Concerns were raised about a timeline for funding, but Hornstein was hopeful that, in the upcoming budget process, his Corridors of Commerce would be included and mentioned that, “money could begin to flow relatively quickly thereafter.” Funding for projects would be based on criteria, which Hornstein was confident that I-94 would meet.
Hornstein mentioned that the proposed increase in gas tax, while not popular, is the only feasible solution at the moment for transportation funding. However, on Monday Gov. Dayton spoke against any gas tax increases, which may force Hornstein to consider other revenue options. One such option includes a local option sales tax that would not require a referendum. Wright County Commissioner Potter mentioned that his county recently passed a resolution in support of local option sales taxes.
Overall, Chairman Hornstein was open about the current state of affairs for the expansion project, and his support for I-94 as a part of his Corridors of Commerce plan was evident. He mentioned that his next goal will be to set up a hearing about ways to deal with the issue of decreasing gas tax revenues due to higher fuel efficiency. This idea seemed to have wide support in the room, as equity in funding is a key issue for the local area which, as a part of MnDOT District 3, only sees 80% of its tax revenue returned compared to much higher returns across the state. Hornstein concluded by saying, “we need to be cooperative and [transportation] needs to be a holistic approach. Funding does not stop at the county line.”