The Minnesota Transportation Alliance, a coalition of groups pushing for better transportation systems around the state, said today that more spending on infrastructure will lead to more jobs and improve the state’s economy.
The group said “a mix of reforms and new investments can accelerate projects and cut overall costs.” Its “Roadmap to 2040” plan notes that “Minnesota’s roads, airports, and water ways are aging, reaching a critical point in their life and requiring major investments. The cost of infrastructure projects increases 10 percent every year a project is delayed.”
The plan includes “a comprehensive inventory of roads, bridges, freight rail, transit, ports and airport infrastructure needs throughout Minnesota, also offers innovative solutions re-designing how transportation services and projects are planned and delivered, and an a la carte menu of new transportation funding options.”
Said Margaret Donahoe, executive director of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance:
“Minnesota’s roads, bridges, rail lines, ports and airports move goods, services and people across the state. Today, we struggle to move goods and services to market because of crumbling bridges, congested roadways and obsolete ports. The cost of delaying these projects further will risk putting our state behind further in the economic recovery, subject future taxpayers to additional costs, and prevent getting hardworking Minnesotans back on the job.”
Some options the group proposed for for improving highway safety and lowering the costs of construction:
- Better coordination and partnerships among the state and local governments to avoid duplication of effort
- Accelerate the permitting process for those permits related to transportation project construction
- In some instances, closing highways during construction, which can lower construction cost by nearly 20 percent and using design-build strategies, similar to those used in Highway 212 in Carver County and Highway 52 in Rochester, to expedite projects
- Increase recycling of construction materials
- Employ new technologies like warm mix asphalt and prefabricated bridges.
And they offer some options for funding the improvements:
- Closing tax loopholes and ensuring that all users of the system are contributing to its maintenance
- Leveraging funds through general obligation and trunk highway bonds. Interest rates are at historic lows right now.
- Indexing the state’s gas tax to the Consumer Price Index or Construction Inflation Index
- Implementing surcharges on DWI and moving violations
- Generating new fees from additional ‘HOT lanes’ or MN Pass lanes
- Dedicating the sales tax revenue from leased motor vehicle sales
- Allowing counties and cities to implement local option sales taxes and wheelage fees
- Extending the tax on fuel tank removal.
The group said the U.S. spends only 1.7 percent of GDP on transportation, while Europe and China spend nearly 9 percent.
“Minnesota’s future and its economy depends on a strong, interconnected transportation system to move products and people and this Roadmap to 2040 provides a vision for how our state could and should look with needed strategic investments in our transportation system,” Donahoe said.