MnDOT says it'll need $16.3B more than it's going to get in the next 20 years


MnDOT says it's not going to have enough money over the next couple decades for a modern, competitive transportation system in Minnesota.

The department – which has a hand in managing freeways, bridges, drainage, bike trails and a lot of other things – said Thursday it's on track to take in $20.1 billion from 2018 through 2037.

Which is a big chunk of change, but $16.3 billion short of the revenue it says it needs over that time to address expected issues (such as congestion).

“Minnesota’s infrastructure will continue to deteriorate without a significant infusion of resources to address critical needs,” MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle argues in the news release.

So what are the issues?

MnDOT says it's a few things.

First off, the transportation infrastructure in Minnesota is old. It's the fifth largest in the country, MnDOT says, but half the state’s highways and more than one-third of the bridges are more than 50 years old.

The Austin Daily Herald reports the state expects truck and rail traffic to jump by about 30 percent between now and 2030.

And opting not to make early maintenance fixes now costs more down the line as the damage worsens. Factor in inflation, and the price increases further.

MnDOT also says it hasn't gotten "sustained" funding from lawmakers in four years now.

If this rings a bell, it's because transportation funding was a big topic during the 2015 legislative session, with Democrats, Republicans and the governor going back and forth about how much funding was needed, and where to get the money.

One side proposed a wholesale gas tax, plus an increase for Twin Cities metro residents when registering their car with the state. The other side suggested using money from the state surplus and highway funds, while finding other, unspecified places in the budget to save money.

As the session wound down, they basically punted long-term plans to 2016.

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