MnDOT reports an increase in transportation funding gap
ST. PAUL, Minn. – The funding necessary to provide Minnesotans with an economically competitive transportation system over the next 20 years has increased significantly, according to recent Minnesota Department of Transportation projections.
Planning experts working on the Minnesota State Highway Investment Plan (MnSHIP) have determined that, during the 20-year period of 2018 to 2037, Minnesota will see a shortfall of $16.3 billion of funding necessary to provide a transportation system that addresses congestion and meets the needs of Minnesota businesses.
That is an increase of $3.8 billion from the previous MnSHIP Plan, which covered the years 2014 to 2033. The unfunded gap in that plan was $12.5 billion.
“Our planning process is thorough and objective,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “It is clearly indicating that the growth in revenue will not meet what we need to spend to provide a competitive system by 2037.”
Commissioner Zelle attributes gap growth to a number of issues, including:
- Legislative inaction. Since the last MnSHIP, there have been four years of legislative inaction on sustained transportation funding.
- Aging system. Minnesota’s transportation system, the fifth largest in the nation, is coming of age. Half of the state’s highways are more than 50 years old and more than a third of all state bridges are also 50 years or older.
- Exponential deterioration. The longer the state waits to make necessary investments in critical transportation infrastructure improvements, the faster our aging roads and bridges deteriorate. Deferring basic maintenance causes more costly damage to our current infrastructure, making their improvements more complex and costly to complete.
- Inflation. The cost of materials and labor to fix the system has increased and will continue to do so. A key revenue source for transportation, the state fuel tax, is not indexed to inflation and does not keep pace with rising costs.
- New need requirement categories. MnDOT is now considering flood mitigation and main street projects which provides a more accurate picture of the system’s true needs.
- Better data. MnDOT planners are refining the cost projections associated with roadway infrastructure so we have a better understanding of its condition and need. This includes drainage systems, traffic signals, lighting, guardrail, overhead signs, as well as facilities such as rest areas and weigh stations.
The MnSHIP is a federally required document. It is resource constrained, meaning that MnDOT estimates the amount of revenue that will come in, and plans how to use the revenue based on state and agency priorities.
“Minnesota’s infrastructure will continue to deteriorate without a significant infusion of resources to address critical needs,” Zelle said. “There is strong, bipartisan agreement that something must be done to improve transportation funding. It’s up to the Legislature to determine that solution, and soon.”
To learn more about funding Minnesota’s transportation system visit Get Connected at www.dot.state.mn.us/getconnected