U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta announced a grant of $49.5 million in Federal Transit Administration funds to the Minneapolis Metropolitan Council for the construction of the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit Project.
The funds "further reinforce this administration's commitment to public
transportation as a strategic investment," said Mineta. "This grant strengthens that commitment and will help provide safe, efficient and
reliable transit service to the residents of Minnesota."
In his remarks to transportation leaders gathered in Minneapolis, Mineta paused to thank all of those involved with building and maintaining the nation's transportation system. "I am deeply grateful for your service," he said.
Mineta said the federal government supports funding for systems that provide more than one mode of transportation. "It is crucial we prepare a transportation system for tomorrow, and post-Sept. 11 last year. We are
committed to building in security from the ground up," he said. "We must ensure adequate and reliable funding to invest in our system. We must preserve flexibility for states and local departments to decide how monies shall be spent. We must also encourage private sector
investment in transportation to augment existing revenue and we must continue to focus on funding intermodal systems."
Mineta said to say that security became a top priority in the transportation department is an understatement. "Especially," he said, "when transportation itself was used as the weapon."
"Our most urgent priority was to counter the vulnerabilities of our air transportation system. But we have followed up with strengthening our highways and waterways and our
borders," Mineta said. "We cannot let the events of September 11th last year to diminish the right for people to travel securely."
-- Karen Louise Boothe