Mankato Free Press–Our View: Don’t turn road debate into roundabout

Why it matters: Years of road funding debate has clearly vetted the problem, now we need solutions

March 4, 2015

Minnesotans are losing money every minute we debate whether we need more adequate road funding. We know the answer. We do.

It’s hard to imagine more information or more signs of a terrible aging road system than those right before our eyes or under our wheels.

 After Gov. Mark Dayton proposed his $6 billion, 10-year plan to make a dent in fixing the crumbling roads and congested highways full of dangerous designs, his opponents in the Republican Party and the business community said they need more time to do yet another study and see what the need is.

Talk about studying a problem to death. How much more taxpayer money are we going to spend looking at another study? The bipartisan transportation advisory committee spent hours detailing the need and coming up with a credible plan months ago.

Dayton went further recently and detailed specific projects in an act of transparency. It’s reasonable to see what people will get for their hard-earned tax dollars. This list was criticized as politically motivated, but Dayton didn’t even see it before it was publicized nor was he involved in picking the projects. MnDOT engineers selected the projects based on need.

We know of no other government entity, local or municipal, that does not put out a list of projects first, letting taxpayers know what they are getting. Local government doesn’t wait to tell you what projects they will do. So why should the state? Dayton and longtime businessman and transportation commissioner Charlie Zelle have stepped up to offer a plan.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is apparently needing another study. We should be clear, many chambers around the state in small towns that have needed roads for years are not on board with the Minnesota Chamber’s muscling behavior on this crucial issue that costs businesses around the state millions of dollars as we wait.

Dayton has said his figure is an estimate, as with any government project. He’s more than willing to have all this work done for $4 billion instead of $6 billion if that’s the cost of filling the need. But he’s being realistic. He’s listening to engineers and economists.

These calls for more studies are thinly veiled excuses for groups and parties that don’t want to face the hard realities of road funding. There is no way to do road funding on the cheap. The longer we wait, the more we will pay.


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