May 17th, 2009
Bachmann and Paulsen Pledge Support for Highway 55
All of the hard work by the 55 Corridor Coalition has paid off. I am
thrilled to announce that Highway 55 was one of only 5 transportation
requests by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann for the 2010 six year
Reauthorization Surface Transportation Bill. And Congressman Erik Paulsen
also submitted the $6 million dollar request. You can see a list of each of
their projects submitted by clicking on their website links:
I couldn't find the list submitted for Keith Ellison or Betty McCullum. And,
despite many worthy projects, John Kline didn't make any requests for the
The engineers and others did the hefty lifting in preparing the 55 funding
request. Here's my little piece of the process.
After returning from Washington D.C. last month I was disappointed that we
hadn't met Congressman Paulsen. Knowing he was home for spring break, I
called his Eden Prairie office and managed to secure a five minute
appointment. The Congressman said he had to carry 610, the 494/169
interchange and a flyover ramp in Rogers on I-94. That Michele Bachmann had
to carry Highway 55. I left him with a 2 page printout showing a mini
appraisal of one parcel on Highway 55 that doesn't have utilities. Explained
if Congress waited to give us right of way money until this land got
utilities, it would be about paying $584,000/acre versus $72,000 for the
same land. Why does government always buy land at the top of the market?
I left disappointed that he wouldn't support Highway 55, but pleased to meet
him and confident that he will an excellent job representing the Third
Later that week I attended our bi-monthly 55 Corridor Coalition meeting,
which, as usual, was attended by Deb from Congresswoman Bachmann's staff.
What the media never says about Michele Bachmann is how active her staff is
in the community and how well informed they are on the issues. I reported
that Erik Paulsen declined to support 55. I handed Deb the same land price
info I had given Erik Paulsen, and emailed it the staff person we had met in
D.C., leaving her a voice message as well.
The next day I get a letter from Congressman Paulsen, which I hung on my
wall. "I appreciate seeing your information on the value of land before and
after utilities. I'll share your materials with my DC staff."
The week before the transportation requests were due, Mark, an owner of
Morrie's Buffalo Ford who had come with us to D.C., and Morrie, spent an
hour with Congressman Paulsen. Erik Paulsen was thrilled to be able to get a
first hand account of the auto industry, as its quite the issue in Congress.
But they also spent 15 minutes on Highway 55. They told the tragic story of
their employee who was killed on the highway (the accident happened in
A few days later, Mark got a letter from Congressman Paulsen that included a
handwritten note with his promise to support Highway 55 in the new bill!
The week the submissions were due I was napping on my deck when the phone
rang. The caller ID said "U.S. Capital", and, in my nap interrupted haze, I
thought it was a credit card offer. But no, it was the staff person from
Michele Bachmann's office, returning my call from a couple weeks before. I
gave her my land price pitch and she was really intrigued by it-I don't
think its something she had heard before. I repeated the conversation I had
with Michele Bachmann on how important it is for government to get a good
return on investment of taxpayer dollars--and our Highway 55 request
We can whine about our government-but we have the right to whine. I've never
made a campaign contribution-yet I met with two members of Congress and they
listened to me. As a Carver County Commissioner pointed out to me in D.C.,
there is a more efficient mode of government-its called Dictatorship.