ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Senate has renewed its pledge to pass a comprehensive transportation bill with dedicated and sustainable funding in the 2016 legislative session. While both the House and Senate passed transportation funding bills last session, the Senate bill continues to be the only responsible long-term solution.
“Minnesota’s transportation network is the economic backbone of the state, connecting our rural communities, regional centers, and metro area. Unfortunately our network is aging and straining under the increased demands of a growing population and economy. Now is the time to prioritize our transportation network and provide the dedicated and sustainable funding it needs to succeed,” said Sen. Carlson.
“During the time that Minnesota has repeatedly failed to keep up with the increasing costs of maintenance and construction, others states have moved ahead,” said Sen. Carlson. “These are the places Minnesota competes with for jobs, and for building a quality of life to attract and retain the workforce of the future. Since 2012, twenty-three states have passed transportation bills that increased funding for their transportation systems, most through increasing or reforming the gas tax.”
According to the latest analysis from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), the state faces a shortfall of more than $16 billion over the next 20 years to meet the growing demands being placed on our roads and bridges. As the demand increases and the existing network ages, the costs for repairing and improving our infrastructure will only increase should we fail to keep up. Only a long-term transportation bill with dedicated funds can solve this problem.
Transit, in particular, has seen a boom in suburban Minnesota, and the trend will only continue. Ridership has increased 30 percent in the last ten years. Millennials choose transit much more frequently than previous generations, and a growing population of retiring seniors are downsizing, relying on transit to access family, health care, and services. Transit is also a high-return long-term metro investment; the green line alone brought in $3 billion in private investments. Communities along other bus transit lines rely on those networks to get to work, school, and build the economy.
“Minnesotans expect and deserve a world-class transportation network, and we must look past short-term fixes for a long-term problem. We must make sure every Minnesotan has access to a transportation network that works for everyone. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and the House to find a bipartisan solution that works for the whole state,” added Sen. Carlson.