Oberstar's mark on Crow Wing County
With the passing of Jim Oberstar I couldn’t help but be reminded of the several projects that I had the opportunity to be part of and work directly with him while serving as the Crow Wing County Engineer. There is no question that he was a true champion at the federal level for transportation, not only highways — roads and bridges — but for all transportation modes. He was passionate about safe air travel and essential air service for rural communities. He also was a particular supporter of accommodations for bicycle use within roadways as well as separate trails, both as a practical means of transportation and recreation. He truly was interested in local concerns and issues, and worked diligently to bring common sense to the nation’s transportation program.
Minnesota and our great nation owe Jim Oberstar a debt of gratitude for his work in Congress over the years especially related to transportation.
The following local projects resulted from the use of Federal Highway funds (specific categorical funds or enhancement funds) and were strongly influenced by Congressman Oberstar either by being directly included in federal legislation or through his vocal support to appropriate officials. In my opinion, without his support they would likely not have happened.
1. Croft Mine Heritage Park and Entrance Road (8th Street) located in Crosby perpetuating the history of mining on the Cuyuna Range including a reconstructed underground mine shaft along with artifacts
2. Miners Memorial located in Ironton on State Highway 210 recognizing and memorializing all miners lost in mine accidents on the Cuyuna Range
3. Cuyuna Lakes State Trail from Crosby to Riverton within the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area
4. Paul Bunyan State Trail including Excelsior Road Bridge, State Highway 210 Tunnel, the “link-up” around the Brainerd Tie Plant and extension to Crow Wing State Park
5. Brainerd State Highway 371 Bypass including Visitors Center and Crow Wing State Park Road
6. Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway (the only state and federal designated Scenic Byway entirely on county roads) located in northern Crow Wing County
These projects are but a sample of Jim Oberstar’s mark on Crow Wing County and likely indicative of his mark on Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District and in many locations throughout the Nation.
Thank you, Congressman.
Blanck, now retired, is the former Crow Wing County Engineer.