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State roads are slip sliding away

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opinion Detroit Lakes,Minnesota 56501
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State roads are slip sliding away
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No matter who controls the Legislature next year, they’re going to have to look at finding more money for Minnesota’s transportation system.


Revenue from the gas tax, license plate tabs and other sources now brings in about $1.8 billion — about $1 billion less than needed to sustain the system over the long haul, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

The future prosperity and quality of life in Minnesota will be shaped by the quality of its transportation system.

To be a strong, competitive leader in the Upper Midwest, attracting businesses and new residents, Minnesota needs a solid plan for maintaining its transportation system.

The state’s economy depends on a strong, interconnected transportation system to move around products and people.

Postponing work that needs to be done on the state’s highways and bridges will hand future taxpayers a big bill, since it costs much more to rebuild roads the longer you wait.

Minnesota’s population growth and stagnant transportation funding have resulted in deferring basic maintenance and capacity improvements, resulting in safety concerns, mounting congestion and economic constraints for businesses and commuters.

According to Roadmap to 2040, a proposal put out by the Minnesota Transportation Alliance:

  • Every year over 400 Minnesotans are killed in traffic crashes and thousands are injured.
  • Minnesota commuters are paying more than $800 per year in lost fuel and time due to traffic congestion, while potholes and deteriorating roads throughout the state inflict costly wear and tear on vehicles.
  • Many Minnesotans have little choice when it comes to getting to work, accessing needed services and reaching other important destinations, adding costs for individuals and society.
  • In the coming decades, one million more people will move into Minnesota, generating an additional 4 million trips every day. Freight movement will grow dramatically as businesses reach out to more markets and products are delivered right to residential doorsteps.
  • The state needs to take steps to attract and retain businesses. Investment in transportation infrastructure will both get people back to work in good-paying construction jobs, and they will allow Minnesota businesses to be competitive in a global marketplace.

The state needs an innovative multi-modal, long-range transportation plan that redesigns the way Minnesota plans, builds and funds transportation projects.

Members of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance work on the front lines in transportation every day and came together to develop the Roadmap to 2040 — a look at where the state needs to be in 25 years.

The state needs to know where it’s going, those considering locating here need to know what it has to offer and then Minnesota needs to decide how to get there.

The Roadmap to 2040 provides a good blueprint. It brings together long-range plans for various modes (freight and passenger rail, transit service, aviation, ports and waterways and highways) developed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Council along with long-term needs identified by community leaders.

Failure to act is not an option — it will only kick the problems associated with crumbling transportation infrastructure down the road.