The Senate Transportation Committee passed a bill this week that would require the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to provide at least 50% of Corridors of Commerce funding to projects located outside the seven-county metropolitan area. The Corridors of Commerce program was designed to improve the efficient movement of freight and business activities throughout the state.
MnDOT has been using a guideline of splitting Corridors of Commerce roughly 50/50 between metro and greater Minnesota projects, depending on what projects submitted for consideration and legislatively mandated criteria, such as the need for safety improvement, return on investment, and connecting regions of the state.
The bill undercuts provisions that became law in 2017, requesting that MnDOT complete an examination of their project selection process by November 2018, and issue a report to the legislature by 2019. The mandate to fund projects in certain areas of the state over others reduces flexibility and efficiency that was afforded to the Corridors of Commerce program when it became law in 2013 by requiring dollars be spent in areas with less freight traffic and congestion when those dollars could be more effectively used elsewhere. (SF2547)