House panel talks $15M to repair potholes and other winter road damage

Published 10:30 am Thursday, March 27, 2014

ST. PAUL — Minnesota roads could get another $15 million to repair potholes and other damage wrought by one of the worst winters in years.

A state House transportation panel on Wednesday considered a bill to direct $10 million toward fixes on state highways and another $5 million for city and county roads.

Rep. Barb Yarusso, DFL-Shoreview, the bill sponsor, testified that driving this winter was “like an amusement park ride trying to dodge the potholes.”

Email newsletter signup

All panel members agreed with the need to fix what Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, described as “unanticipated damage” to roads this winter. But some legislators wondered whether roads were being built and maintained properly in the first place.

“Do we do a cost-benefit analysis when we decide to what standard we are going to build roads?” said Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul. “What is the quality of our infrastructure? What does make sense on how we spend money?”

Anne Finn, assistant intergovernmental relations director for the League of Minnesota Cities, testified that every dollar invested in road maintenance saves seven in repairs.

“Much of the condition of our roads is a result of neglect,” Finn said. “What we hear from city engineers is that they need the tools and the resources” to get the repairs done.

Yarusso said winter-damaged roads lead to hidden costs for Minnesota drivers, such as flat tires, misalignments and accidents.