Legislation Would Rename D.C. Building After Oberstar

May 22--Legislation has been introduced that would rename the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington in honor of former U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar.

A bill was introduced today in the Senate by Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, both Democrats.

A House version of the bill is sponsored by Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-IL, and co-sponsored by the entire Minnesota delegation including Democrats Rick Nolan, Collin Peterson, Keith Ellison, Tim Walz and Betty McCollum and Republicans Michelle Bachmann, John Kline and Erik Paulsen.

Klobuchar noted that Oberstar had a role in "just about every major federally funded transportation project during the last five decades,'' including roads, bridges, tunnels, rails, locks and dams, bike paths. "It is only fitting that the Department of Transportation building would honor his legacy."

Lipinski said Oberstar was a mentor for many lawmakers on transportation issues.

"The man I called 'Mr. Transportation' served the people of Minnesota for over 36 years, becoming the state's longest-serving member of Congress," Lipinski said in a statement. "Jim's thoughtful and thorough approach to crafting legislation had a tremendous impact on transportation across the country. I witnessed firsthand how his knowledge and passion helped people understand how important transportation is to our economy and our future."

The modern, massive DOT complex, completed in 2007, spans 2.1 million square feet and fronts on New Jersey Avenue within view of the Capitol building. It houses more than 5,000 employees. The $326 million complex includes a nine-story western tower and an eight-level eastern tower.

Oberstar, a Chisholm native, died in his sleep on the morning of May. 3. He was 79. He was first elected in 1974 and serving through 2010, representing the Eighth Congressional District that covers all of Northeastern Minnesota. He spent much of that time focusing on transportation issues, including a stint as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Oberstar was especially involved in aviation issues but also focused on highway, rail and even bicycle trail funding as well as instigating the Safe Routes to Schools program across the country.

Copyright 2014 - Duluth News Tribune

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