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Transportation Champion Jim Oberstar Dies at 79

Jim Oberstar was elected 18 times to Congress, serving Minnesota's 8th Congressional District from 1975 to 2011. He died suddenly in his sleep on Saturday, May 3, 2014.
May 5, 2014, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Jim Oberstar, the longtime representative of Minnesota's 8th Congressional District, died suddenly in his sleep on Saturday, May 3, 2014.

Julie Kosbab provides an obituary, with personal touches and attention to Oberstar's accomplishments as a Minnesota Congressman and as chair of the House Transportation Committee. "This was not a man talking the talk," writes Kosbab. "Oberstar was a passionate advocate of a carbohydrate-based transportation system. He’d taken up bicycling as a response to grief after the death of his first wife, and converted members of his staff to bike commuters. He co-authored, sponsored and helped pass the milestone SAFETEA-LU legislation in 2005. SAFETEA-LU provided not only for bridges and roads, but for public transportation support and alternative transportation. It was the launchpad for Safe Routes to Schools, a program intended to support and encourage kids to again walk and ride to school. It was also the source of $25 million in federally funded improvements for the city of Minneapolis to encourage bicycling as a significant mode share, under a program known as the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program."

In a separate article, Baird Helgeson and Kelly Smith detail the accomplishments of Oberstar's life, including his actions after the Interstate 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis in 2007, when he "ensured rapid passage of $250 million in federal money to build a replacement."

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Published on Saturday, May 3, 2014 in Streets.MN
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