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AASHTO Journal

State DOT’s Zelle Warns of Shrinking Future Project Funds for Minnesota Roads, Bridges

​Minnesota Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle warned that a cramped revenue stream for infrastructure investment is curbing the number of projects the state department of transportation can launch each year even as roadway system needs increase.

He also called on state lawmakers to agree on a long-term plan to increase surface transportation funding.

dollarpump.jpgZelle made the comments April 13 while announcing the MnDOT will work on 211 projects this year valued at $1 billion to help keep the state's roads and bridges in good working condition, improve safety for motorists and support thousands of construction jobs across the state.

"While this year's program is comparable in dollar value to last year's, we are seeing fewer projects," he said in a news release. "And, in the coming years, we will also see the funding that is available to invest will decrease because of inflation and flattening revenue streams."

The department said its latest 20-year Minnesota highway investment plan forecasts an $18 billion dollar gap between anticipated revenue and what it will need to keep the surface transportation system operating competitively.

"The transportation system is a key to Minnesota's economic success," Zelle said. "With more than half of our state roads older than 50 years, and 40 percent of our bridges more than 40 years old, the need is outpacing available resources. It's important that legislators work together to find a long-term, sustainable funding solution this year so the transportation system does not continue to degrade."

Zelle also announced 57 MnDOT multimodal projects valued at $47.4 million for this year, including airport, port and railroad projects that are outside the state's road construction program.

Among highlights of this year's road construction season, the department said, is "the anticipated completion of the St. Croix River Crossing between Stillwater, Minn., and St. Joseph, Wis., and the relocation of Highway 53 in Virginia, Minn., that includes the construction of what will be the tallest bridge in Minnesota."

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