Local officials central to decision-making on transportation projects
Anoka County Commissioner Scott Schulte knows that Foley Boulevard is more than a city street in Coon Rapids—it’s a regional thoroughfare that benefits thousands of drivers a day. That’s why Anoka County is working on a five-stage plan to upgrade and improve the road, to ensure that traffic flows efficiently and safely.
A significant part of the funding for the Foley Boulevard upgrade has come through the Metropolitan Council’s Regional Solicitation process. “The Regional Solicitation is designed to make sure funding gets spread around the region,” said Schulte. “Foley Boulevard qualified for it because it has a regional impact; it scored high in the process.”
Every two years the seven-county metro area receives approximately $200 million in federal transportation funding. These funds come mostly from the federal gas tax motorists pay when they fill up at the pump. The funds are dedicated to specific programs ranging from relieving congestion, improving safety and enhancing mobility through highway, bridge, transit, and biking and pedestrian projects.
The Council relies on a group of local elected officials and residents to review those local project proposals and make funding recommendations. This body is called the Transportation Advisory Board (TAB).
More than half of the federal funding is spent on roadways, up to 30% can be dedicated to transit projects, and up to 20% can be used for bicycle and pedestrian projects. The TAB also ensures that the funding is distributed equitably across the region.
“In Minnesota, there is a high level of collaboration and cooperation amongst folks—it’s not just ‘what’s in it for me,’ it’s ‘what’s in it for us,’” said Jim Hovland, Edina mayor and TAB chair. “How can we make our region stronger, how can we make it more effective from an economic standpoint, how can we move our people and goods more efficiently? The TAB has an important role to play in all of this.”
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