Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Winona Daily News Postmortem For Winona Pod Earmark

Winona Daily News:

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz has submitted federal funding requests totalling $11.1 million for seven Winona-area projects, including a third attempt to land a $3 million earmark for the city of Goodview's radium-filtration plants.

But the city of Winona's request for $25 million to build a test track and laboratory for Personal Rapid Transit was not among them, as the congressman says he has doubts about the viability of the futuristic transportation system.

"We're just not sure," said Walz, DFL-Minn. "As a demonstration project and that amount of money when it's not at a point where it's been demonstrated, it was pretty hard for us to request it."


Walz also passed on another city of Winona request, which would award $1.36 million to re-establish the outlet from Lake Winona.

City officials, while acknowledging the congressman has the right to support any projects he chooses, disagreed with his assessment of PRT, which uses small, pod-like vehicles on guideways to shuttle passengers to their destinations.

"I respect his opinion, and I have my opinion," Mayor Jerry Miller said. "I think it would be a good project. Somebody's going to do it somewhere."

Walz cited the technology's unproven track record and the size of the earmark as rationale for not requesting federal funding. The only other funding request he submitted in the same price range was $35 million for the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System, a project that will provide treated water to 300,000 people.

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