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Legislature mulls another $15 million for pothole repair

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Minnesota lawmakers are mulling a $15 million expenditure on pothole repair as cratered roads carve even deeper ruts in city and county budgets, the Pioneer Press reports.

A Minnesota House transportation panel is debating whether to spend an additional $10 million on highway pothole patching, with an additional $5 million from the general fund set aside for county and city roads. A Wednesday night vote was planned.

This pothole season has been worse than usual, city and state leaders have said.

Rep. Barb Yarusso, DFL-Shoreview, compared her drive to work this winter to an amusement park ride, due to all the pothole-dodging.

But other lawmakers questioned whether roads were being built and maintained properly, the Pioneer Press reports.

"Do we do a cost-benefit analysis when we decide to what standard we are going to build roads?" said Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul. "What is the quality of our infrastructure? What does make sense on how we spend money?"

Anne Finn, with the League of Minnesota Cities, told lawmakers that every dollar spent in road maintenance saves $7 in repairs.

State transportation officials estimate that this year – with brutal cold, ample snow and lots of freezing/thawing – could bring twice as many potholes as last, the Pioneer Press reported.

Nationwide, auto owners spend roughly $5 billion on pothole-damage repairs, AAA has estimated, but the number could be pushed closer to $6.4 billion this year, due in part to the severe cold, snowy winter in the Midwest and East, CBS News reported. CBS says potholes are eating away at city budgets as well residents' cars.

Potholes thrive on freezing and thawing cycles as moisture seeps into road cracks, freezes, expands and then melts, leaving cavities that car tires crush (see a USA Today graphic of how they form).

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