Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Don't expect Legislature to pass a quick pothole fix

Author:

This is one of Minnesota's worst years for potholes in years, but it's looking less likely that lawmakers will approve a quick fix, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

State and local officials say they're fielding dozens of calls from residents complaining about the poor condition of streets and highways in Minnesota.

"People get it that our roads are so deteriorated, they can't withstand a harsh winter," said Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis.

But the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton are not inclined to approve a large funding plan to fix deteriorating roads and bridges this session, according to the Pioneer Press, because they're reluctant to raise the taxes needed to pay for it.

A House committee approved a $550 million transportation funding package earlier this month, which includes a new 5 percent sales tax on wholesale fuels to pay for roads and bridges. The new fuel tax would add about 12 cents to the cost of a gallon of gasoline.

The bill is opposed by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and by Republicans in the Legislature. So House Speaker Paul Thissen said the measure is all but dead, the Pioneer Press reports.

Gov. Mark Dayton said he also opposes the measure. He said in an interview with the Pioneer Press Thursday that he wants to take a more comprehensive approach to transportation funding.

"I have thought all along that this requires a long discussion in a non-election year," he said. "Next year would be a better time to deal with this."

Minnesota's highway system has more than 140,000 miles of state and local roads, and half of the pavement is more than 50 years old.

Transportation Commissioner Charles Zelle told legislators last month “a perfect storm is coming” in transportation funding, as revenues cannot keep up with the costs associated with building and maintaining the state’s roads, bridges and transit systems.

MnDOT recently announced a plan to spend $18 billion on highways and bridges over the next 20 years, even though the state has $30 billion in needs. The proposal includes several recommendations for raising the money, including a 6.5 percent wholesale fuel sales tax and increases in license tab fees.

While not committing to Zelle's plan, Gov. Dayton said he hopes it "starts a conversation."

"Almost everybody is in agreement that we need to improve our highway and public transit systems, but nobody really wants to pay for it," Dayton said to the Pioneer Press.

Lawmakers last passed a comprehensive transportation funding package in 2008, the year after the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis brought the issue of deficient roads and bridges to a head.

Next Up

Justin Jefferson

Vikings-49ers: 5 things you can count on

Sunday's matchup is a pivotal game in the NFC playoff picture.

Gopher Football

Watch: Gophers troll Badgers with 'Jump Around' after Saturday's win

First they took Paul Bunyan's Axe. Then they took their tradition.

Brandon Richart, missing person

Search underway for missing man in Anoka area

Brandon Richart was last seen Nov. 17.

U.S. Bank Stadium

5 teams win first state championships at Prep Bowl

A pair of records fell as the Prep Bowl lived up to the hype.

ashley Carlson

Remains of missing WI mom found in Pine County, MN

Ashley Miller-Carlson was 33 years old.

D'Angelo Russell

D'Lo's late takeover helps Timberwolves win double-OT thriller

Russell caught fire to help the Timberwolves get back to .500.

Gopher Football

Gophers suffocate Badgers, reclaim Paul Bunyan's Axe

Minnesota picked up its first home win over the Badgers since 2003.

Meeker County Sheriff's Office

Boy, 6, run over after falling off trailer in Meeker Co. tree farm accident

He was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center with internal injuries.

Target store

Target unveils deals for 2-day 'Cyber Monday' event

The promotion kicks off Sunday, November 28.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 9.59.30 AM

Edina police warn of recent burglary trend targeting garages and vehicles

The Edina Police Department is increasing patrols in affected neighborhoods in response to the trend.

Related