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Trail, schmail

July 22, 2009 - Per Peterson
What part of “recession” don’t we understand? While every state in the country is dealing with financial hardships in everything from education to health care and are pinching every penny they’ve got on state and local levels, the state of Minnesota — while doing the very same thing — is going ahead with a bike trail that will run from St. Louis Park to the edge of downtown Minneapolis, a few blocks from the Twins’ new ballpark. An extension past the stadium to the Mississippi River is already planned for next year. The state of Minnesota is receiving about $500 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for roads, bridges and a few trail projects, so technically, the state of Minnesota is not breaking any stimulus rules by using the money for this trail. The federal government has given states, and regional and local governments latitude to parcel out the cash, but stimulus recipients are subject to extensive reporting requirements and audits. The law bars colleges and schools from putting stimulus money into sports stadiums and prohibits stimulus spending on casinos, golf courses, aquariums and zoos. It doesn’t specifically address professional sports arenas, but President Barack Obama has warned against frivolous use of the money. Maybe a bike trail doesn’t fall under the “frivolous” category, but what’s the point of spending more than $1 million on this trail now? There’s a time and a place for this trail, and now is not the time. Plus, the Associated Press reported, the construction of the trail will employ only eight to 10 people. Not exactly a glutton of jobs. So Minnesota is getting $500 million for roads, bridges and trails — that money, all of it, needs to go to roads and bridges, not trails to help cyphen people to Target Field. Look at our roads, they’re crumbling, as they have been for years. And just ask any Minnesotan about the need to repair and replace our bridges. Did the state get any money to fix our priorities?


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