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Transportation advocates to rally in support of mass transit

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: May 20, 2014 - 10:17 AM

Transit supporters in Minneapolis will join their brethren in Washington D.C. in a rally Tuesday to urge Congress to pass a transportation bill to fund the nation's highways and mass transit systems.

Locally members of the Amalgamated Transit Union and other supporters will gather at 11:30 a.m. outside the Hennepin County Government Center as part of Transit Tuesday activities here and in Washington.

“We want our riders to know we stand with them in the fight for more, better and safer public transit,” says Dorothy Maki, Vice President of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005. “Together we can ensure that our voices are heard and elected officials understand that we want them to stand up for transit.”

In Washington D.C., more than a thousand public transportation workers from across the country will descend on the Capitol’s Upper Senate Park to deliver the message that the pending highway bill is about more than highways – it’s about mass transit and jobs. Without a new bill, the Transport Workers Union of America says up to 700,000 jobs could be in jeopardy.

"Projects all across the country like Washington’s new Metro line, light rail expansion and the construction of new stations and rail tunnels will grind to a halt in July if Congress doesn't’t act,”  Transport Workers Union of America International President Harry Lombardo said. “Infrastructure is about more than roads and bridges, it’s also mass transit and jobs.”

The Highway Trust Fund, which is used to reimburse states for highway and mass transit projects, is forecast to go broke in August.  The fund is financed partly by the 18-cent gas tax, which has not produced enough revenue to keep pace with the cost of construction projects. The situation is dire enough that some are calling it the "Transportation Cliff." If no action is taken, states stand to lose millions of dollars in federal funds and construction projects in 2015 could be cancelled or delayed.

At the local rally, here is the list of speakers and presenters:

1.    Brian Lamb-General Manager Metro Transit

2.    Peter McLaughlin-Hennepin County Commissioner

3.    Frank Hornstein-MN House of Representatives 61A

4.    Governor Dayton-office will read statement

5.    Senator Klobuchar-Greg will read statement

6.    Keith Ellison- office will read statement

7.    Jennifer Munt-Met Council/Harry Melander Met Council

8.    Dave Van Hattum-Transit for Livable Communities

9.    Robert Lilligren-Board Chair of the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI)

10.Margaret Donahoe-Transportation Alliance

     11.Chris Coleman Representative-Matt will read statement

12.Bobby Kasper-President St. Paul RLF 50,000 members and 150 Unions, Bill McCarthy 80,000 members and 175 Unions

Speakers in Washington include Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH), Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH), Rep. Alan Grayson (FL), Steven Fulop, Mayor of Jersey City, TWU International President Harry Lombardo, ATU President Larry Hanley. Public transportation workers, riders and advocates also will attend.

"In the coming months, America’s leaders will make decisions that will change the future, for better or for worse," Lombardo said. "I call on Congress to make the right choice: to invest in our economy by creating jobs and building transit systems.  Our jobs, our economy and our future depend on it."

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