By Ken Martin, chairman, Minnesota DFL
Gov. Mark Dayton recently outlined his transportation proposal to improve 2,200 miles of roadways and 300 bridges in Minnesota. It’s no mystery why the state is at a crisis point: a majority of Minnesota’s roads are more than 50 years old, and in the next three years one in five will pass its useful life; and 40 percent of our bridges are 40 years old or older, and in the next 10 years, most will be past their useful life.
The deteriorating roads and bridges are having a direct impact on family and business bottom lines. As a result of bad roads, Minnesotans pay more than $1 billion a year – or about $400 per person – on vehicle repairs. Traffic congestion adds more than $200 million to businesses’ freight and transportation costs. Without action, the cost of transportation will continue to be a burden to families and businesses, and hamper Minnesota’s economic growth.
Thanks to Gov. Dayton’s plan, projects can be found throughout the state. Priority was given to roads in urgent need of repair. Gov. Dayton is also proactive, recommending long-term fixes on projects currently underway as well as preventive maintenance that will save money in the long run. The proposal also provides additional funding for “Corridors of Commerce,” a program that improves roadways used to move freight across the state.
While local road projects are not included on Gov. Dayton’s list, his proposal provides funding for counties, cities and townships and gives their leaders flexibility in repairing roads and bridges in their communities. Gov. Dayton’s proposal would also create much-needed, good-paying jobs in all corners of the state.
In contrast, House GOP leaders have floated a transportation funding plan that would fund approximately one bridge. With this shortsighted thinking Minnesota’s roads and bridges won’t be the only thing that deteriorates, our economy will follow suit.
When Gov. Dayton was elected, he promised to build a Better Minnesota. During his first term Minnesota added more than 200,000 jobs, we have the lowest unemployment rate since 2001 and the Governor turned a budget deficit into a $1 billion budget surplus. Gov. Dayton’s transportation plan will continue this momentum as DFLers work to ensure all Minnesotans are taking part in the state’s economic success.