State Representative Gene Pelowski of Winona is backing legislation to increase the number of state freight rail inspectors.
The measure, heard in the House Ways and Means committee on Friday, is part of a larger transportation bill that will fund oil freight rail safety initiatives and also provide emergency support for local governments to repair a higher than normal number of potholes as a result of severe winter conditions.
Pelowski cited the recent spill of oil from a freight tanker north of Winona near Weaver as one of reasons for his support of the bill. He says the legislation will provide for three additional state freight rail inspectors. Pelowski says if last January's oil tanker spill had occurred on a hot day communities from Lake Pepin to Winona would have needed to be evacuated and there would have been a risk of major damage to the Mississippi River.
The bill, sponsored by DFL Rep Frank Hornstein, also provides additional resources for first responders along oil train and pipeline routes, requires faster response to oil spills, and provides support for expansion and maintenance of key road projects that support economic development.