Editorial: The road system in Minn. is bloatedPublished 10:53am Thursday, December 13, 2012
This state, like so many states, needs to streamline its roadway system.
There is talk at the state Capitol of an increase in gas taxes to pay for highway repair; however, Gov. Mark Dayton opposes a gas tax increase. He says, correctly, that there isn’t public support right now for a gas tax increase.
What the discussion about transportation in Minnesota needs to be about is this: Reducing the road system.
Minnesota civil engineers designed and contracted over the years for gravel and paved roads between big, medium and small communities in the state, then added highways, then widened highways, then added interstates, then added four-lane highways, then routed bypasses around cities … .
You get the picture. Each time the Minnesota Department of Transportation and local authorities expanded the system, the former routes didn’t just go away. We just kept increasing the public burden on everything from county-state-assist roads to discombobulated U.S. Highway 12 shooting westward out of the Twin Cities suburbs to the latest way to go up the North Shore.
Sure, it was a good idea in the golden days of the automobile of the 20th century, when roadways and material for them were less costly. When the costs of education rise and the population becomes more sparse, we consolidate schools — but we never reduce the road system. Where are our priorities?
We’ll get to the point. Minnesota needs fewer gravel roads and fewer rural paved roads. There are fewer people living in rural Minnesota. Also, the Department of Transportation needs to look at its contribution to suburban sprawl. Will an expansion to U.S. 12 only serve to make western exurbs into suburbs? Is this an expense we need or one we just want? Perhaps rail would serve distant commuters better and more safely than expanded roads.
Don’t just ask for more tax revenue. Make the necessary cuts to a bloated system.