“It’s a start to trying to bridge the gap”: What the newly approved infrastructure bill could mean for Minnesota

A White House report released earlier this year indicates that 651 Minnesota bridges and more than 4,986 miles of freeway are in poor condition. The report also states that the infrastructure has “suffered from a systematic lack of investment”.

He also notes that the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Minnesota infrastructure a “C” grade.

The bill provides $ 4.5 billion in funding for highway projects, as well as an additional $ 302 million for bridge replacement and repair, over five years. The bill also provides $ 818 million for public transit.

“An overwhelming majority of the American people already believe we need to make these investments, and they challenge Congress to catch up with the public,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told KSTP’s Tom Hauser. “What we do know is that good investments in transit and transit pay off in the long run, with increased economic activity and job growth.”

Frank Douma, a transportation policy expert at the University of Minnesota, says the state already receives just over $ 1 billion in federal aid each year. He says Minnesota typically spends around $ 3 billion in state money on transportation.

“It would be a good addition to what they get from the federal government,” he noted.

Yet, he adds, there is a funding gap.

“Minnesota is caught in a situation where it is quite expensive to maintain this infrastructure,” said Douma. “But we are also seeing fewer kilometers driven with the pandemic, which means people are buying less gasoline, but we are buying less cars. It’s less income.”

And he says there is less gas tax revenue, which he calls a key funding source for the construction and repair of roads and bridges.

Mika says fuel efficient and electric vehicles also throw a wrench into a once reliable income stream.

“Although they are good for the environment, they are not good for paying for infrastructure because they do not pay for roads and bridges because they are not part of the gasoline tax,” he said. -he declares.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation projects a funding gap of $ 18 billion over the next 20 years.

Douma says there are ideas on how to get more money – tolls or increasing the gasoline tax, for example – but none of them are popular. He added that tough choices could arise – even with infrastructure funding – over what should be fixed or redesigned.

“There will continue to be a gap in the future,” Douma said. “Unless there is a new injection of dollars between what is needed and what is going to be done.”

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About Hector Hedgepeth

Hector Hedgepeth

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