MnDOT announced the Corridors of Commerce projects this morning. Two projects are in the Bloomington/Richfield area, one project in Elk River, and one project in the St. Michael/Albertville area. These four projects use up all available Corridors of Commerce money. The Highway 23 Coalition is disappointed that one of the four-lane gaps on Minnesota Highway 23 was not funded under the Corridors of Commerce program. We congratulate the projects that were awarded today by MnDOT. The Coalition views our project as very strong. In fact, it was ranked high for non-Twin Cities projects (see first page of the attached Final Scoring). If you consider projects outside of the Twin Cities, Hwy 14 and Hwy 23 were the next highest projects. Please note that the $105 million cost would have completed both gaps on Hwy 23.
The Highway 23 Coalition sees the need for a uniform four-lane corridor that facilitates our important commerce with St. Cloud and the Twin Cities Metro. We will continue to fight for the completion of the gaps until this project is completed. We will seek additional state and federal funding to satisfy the commerce and safety needs of the 260,000 residents along the Corridor and the 1,138 transportation-related businesses in West Central Minnesota.
There were a lot of good projects in all eight MnDOT districts. In reality, there were 172 eligible projects around Minnesota that represented $5.6 billion in requests. In short, we do not have enough transportation funding to meet the needs, especially for Greater Minnesota.
Given that funding gap, the Coalition’s Legislative Committee and Board of Directors supports the proposed constitutional amendment that would dedicate all sales tax collected on auto parts for roads and bridges in Minnesota. This proposed amendment does not increase taxes, but rather allocates an existing tax to ensure that these funds are used for transportation purposes. This proposed amendment is also supported by the MN Chamber of Commerce, the MN Transportation Alliance, the Southwest Corridor Transportation Coalition (Hwy 212), the Highway 169 Corridor Coalition, the MN Soybean Growers, etc. The Coalition would work to ensure that adequate funding would be received by Greater Minnesota. If you support this amendment going through the state legislature, please contact your local State Senator and Representative to express your views.