TRIP Counts Rising Transportation Project Needs as Minnesota Lawmakers Work on Funding
MINNEAPOLIS, MN While Minnesota's Legislature tries to complete a transportation budget that the governor will sign, the TRIP national research group reports that available funding for road projects is declining.
"With an already large transportation funding shortfall and a dwindling level of transportation funding available in the coming years, Minnesota is poised to see increasingly deteriorated and congested roads in the future," said Will Wilkins, TRIP's Executive Director.
In a recent report, TRIP said that Minnesota faces a $2.8 billion transportation funding shortfall over the next four years, leading to deteriorating road and bridge conditions, a lack of safety improvements and increasing congestion due to increases in vehicle travel. It also projected that the funding available for road maintenance and improvements by the state, counties and municipalities will decrease by 16 percent from for the five years ending in fiscal 2021.
The TRIP report, "Moving Minnesota Forward: Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient and Well-Maintained Roads, Highways and Bridges," also lists dozens of specific projects for which funding is not available before 2022.
TRIP said 28 percent of Minnesota's major locally-maintained and state-maintained urban roads have pavements in poor condition, while 21 percent are rated as mediocre, 16 percent as fair condition, and only 35 are rated in good condition.
"Due to a lack of funding, the number of lane miles of state-maintained roads in poor condition is projected to increase by 80 percent from 2015 to 2020, from 535 miles in poor condition to 963 miles," TRIP said.
The report cited Minnesota Department of Transportation estimates that based on available funding the number of state-maintained bridges rated in poor condition will increase by about 70 percent between 2016 and 2020, from 23 bridges to 39.
And TRIP said that in the state's largest urban areas, traffic congestion can cost Minnesota drivers as much as 47 hours a year, amounting to $1,035 each in lost time and wasted fuel.
Julie Ring, Executive Director of the Association of Minnesota Counties, said in a statement included with the TRIP announcement that, "Minnesota's transportation system is facing critical needs and the cost of maintaining and improving our network of roads, bridges and transit systems grows every year. It's time for the Legislature and governor to compromise and move forward a comprehensive transportation funding package that addresses the needs throughout our state."