Marshall Independent / David Sturrock on May 11, 2019
There is good news from Saint Paul: Governor Tim Walz and legislative leaders from both parties agree that our roads, highways and bridges need a major funding increase.
There is also bad news: They are far from finding agreement about how to raise those new revenues. Our state badly needs additional funding to maintain, much less improve its thoroughfares. Minnesota’s infrastructure is aging and deteriorating. The American Society of Civil Engineers annual report card grades Minnesota’s roads at D+, our bridges at C, and our local transit services at C-. Left unfixed, these conditions will make our travel less safe, especially in Greater Minnesota.
Increased long-term transportation funding is essential if our region is to enjoy greater connectivity with the rest of the state. This is especially urgent for U.S. 212, which is our chief link to the Twin Cities metro area. The dangerous two-lane segments between Norwood Young America and Chaska must be upgraded to four lanes, and planning must be started for new passing lanes from Glencoe west.
Closer to home, a four-lane extension of Highway 23 from Marshall to Green Valley will mean greater safety for trucks and the vehicles who share the road with them. Meanwhile, our county and city governments remain dependent upon reliable state funding to replace aging, unsafe bridges and maintain local roads and streets. If state funds are inadequate to meet these needs, local property taxpayers will feel the pinch. Local transit is a vital part of the transportation system in southwest Minnesota. Marshall’s UCAP Community Transit and neighboring agencies provide needed transit options for the elderly, disabled, workers and students, but that service cannot be maintained, much less improved, without reliable future funding.
Without significant long-term funding our road, highway, bridge and transit needs will go unaddressed. The Governor, House and Senate must find a transportation solution that can become law in 2019. Insisting on one funding source without being open to compromise leads to gridlock in Saint Paul, and worsening transportation problems across the state. Further delay will only make our problems worse, and the solutions more expensive.
David Sturrock is chairman of the Marshall Area Transportation Group.