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AUSTIN EDITION - MnDOT hits the road for opinions

Associated Press

ST. PAUL -- Transportation Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg revised the state's 20-year plan with help from more people than ever -- and is now taking to the road for even more ideas from the public.

He'll be taking comments from southeastern Minnesota residents at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Holiday Inn South in Rochester.

An appointee of Gov. Jesse Ventura, Tinklenberg will leave the plan for the next chief of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. "We think it's the best thing we can hand on to whatever administration comes next," he said last week.

He'll also give the plan to legislators in January. But until then, he wants other people to look at it to make sure the department's priorities are straight. He's scheduled public hearings in eight cities and towns through September, starting with one in Fergus Falls on Tuesday.

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At the meetings, people will be invited to rank their top three priorities out of 10 choices, including:

Preserving the state's highways, transit and airports to keep them in good working condition;

Promoting land-use decisions that balance the needs of those traveling long distances and those traveling locally;

Maximizing service for travelers by reducing disruptions (such as clearing snow and accidents quickly); and

Increasing the safety and security of transportation systems.

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