Minnesota DOT reveals $1.1 billion in road construction plans


The Minnesota Department of Transportation has revealed plans for $1.1 billion in road construction in 2013, according to Finance & Commerce.

The program would cover 337 ongoing and new projects such as the $17.6 million Highway 36 interchange at English Street in Maplewood and the $130.4 million Lafayette Bridge in St. Paul.

Many transportation professionals disagree over where the money should go.

Margaret Donahoe, executive director of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance, said the money needs to go toward maintenance, adding that the state falls $500 million to $600 million short each year on “what we really need to be doing.”

MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle, however, referred to maintenance as “an ongoing burden on our resources,” pointing to projects like the potential widening of Interstate 94 from Rogers to St. Cloud as a possible improvement for the state’s highway system.

Another problem with the bill, some transportation advocates say, is that the program won’t do enough.

According to a December 2012 report from the Transportation Advisory Committee, the state faces a $5 billion deficit over the next 20 years to maintain its highway system. To improve would increase that deficit to $10 or $12 billion.

However, the state may start to see more transportation income soon.

State Representative Ron Erhardt introduced a bill this month proposing trunk highway bond proceeds and a 5-cent fuel tax increase, among other revenue to pay for $3.2 billion in transportation projects.

The bill may be included in an omnibus transportation financing bill, which is expected to be introduced next week.