Editorial Roundup: Evidence shows more highways getting worse

Published 7:59 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2019

According to the latest state pavement condition report from MnDOT, Minnesota roads are getting worse. And it appears that is just fine by the GOP-led Senate.

Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Sen. Jim Abeler, among others, have been on record saying Minnesota doesn’t need more tax money to fix roads. It’s just not true. Not unless Gazelka and Abeler want to lower the longtime, bipartisan standards agreed to for the condition of state highways.

The number of Minnesota state highways falling to the poor category increased by approximately 17.5 percent from 2017 to 2018.

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MnDOT reports in 2018 there were 502 miles of state highways in “poor” road condition, 88 more miles than in 2017. This is the primary result of underfunding of Minnesota roads since the days of Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s overridden veto on road funding. The DFL has never, in our memory, opposed increases in road funding, particularly the funding that is used to maintain or improve crumbling roads, many of which are in outstate Minnesota.

The parties can argue about expansion and new nice interchanges for the metro area, but basic road conditions remain in a downward spiral across the state.

MnDOT says based on the current funding projection for the next four years, all types of roads, state highways, interstates and national highways (like Highways 169 and 14, which run through Mankato) will all deteriorate further with more listed in “poor” condition. Some 98 more miles will move to “poor” condition during the next four years.

MnDOT experts note: “Once a pavement falls into the ‘poor’ category it normally will require major rehabilitation or reconstruction to restore any meaningful amount of service life. These types of repairs are expensive, thus making it much harder with a limited budget to recover once the amount of miles in this condition becomes very high.”

With 600 miles of roads in “poor” condition, Minnesota will have the distinction of having enough miles of poor roads that one could drive the length of the state on crumbling highways.

We need more road funding. We urge the Republican caucus to face facts and join with Democrats and Gov. Tim Walz and approve an appropriate increase in the gas tax. The longer we wait, the more it will cost and fewer roads will be fixed.

— Mankato Free Press, April 17

About Editorial Roundup

Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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