Coverage Around the Nation

MnDOT reports an increase in road and bridge funding gap 8/27/2016

8/27/2016, Voice of Alexandria – The funding necessary to provide Minnesotans with an economically competitive state highway and bridge system over the next 20 years has increased significantly, according to Minnesota Department of Transportation planning projections.

MnDOT planners working on the Minnesota State Highway Investment Plan (MnSHIP) have said that during the 20-year period of 2018 to 2037, Minnesota will suffer a shortfall of $18 billion of funding necessary to provide a highway system that addresses congestion, meets Minnesota business needs, and supports quality of life throughout the state. This does not include additional funding to support local roads, transit and other forms of transportation.

That is an increase of $6 billion from the previous MnSHIP Plan, which covered the years 2014 to 2033. The unfunded gap in that plan was $12 billion.

“Our planning process is thorough and objective,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “It is clearly indicating that the growth in current revenue sources will not meet what we need to spend to provide a competitive system by 2037. It is also clear that this number will only continue to rise if we as a state do not pass a comprehensive transportation funding plan.”

Commissioner Zelle attributes the gap growth to a number of issues, including:

  • Investments in the state highway system have not kept pace with needed work over the last four years resulting in an increase of $3 billion for deferred maintenance
  • MnDOT has developed a more accurate assessment of the actual cost of program and project delivery including real estate costs and engineering which increases the gap by $2 billion
  • The cost to deliver the program is a function of the size of the program. Because the overall need number has grown, program and project delivery costs have also increased by $1 billion
  • Inflation growth of $3 billion will occur as the years change from 2014-2033 to 2018-2037

This gap growth can in part be offset by federal funding. Commissioner Zelle added that the recently passed federal transportation legislation for surface transportation (roadways, rail and shipping) and growth in other state and federal revenue sources provides an estimated $3 billion in new revenue over the 20-year period, which reduces the increased gap to $6 billion. He added that MnDOT will continue to pursue efficiencies and effective investments to make sure taxpayers are getting the most value.

The MnSHIP is a legally required document. It is resource constrained, meaning that MnDOT estimates the amount of revenue that will come in, and plans how to use the revenue based on state and agency priorities.

“Minnesota’s infrastructure will continue to deteriorate without a significant infusion of resources to address critical needs,” Zelle said. “There is strong, bipartisan agreement that something must be done to improve transportation funding. If we don’t act on this universally recognized problem, system repairs and needed investments will cost even more.”

A draft of the 2018-2037 MnSHIP will be available for public review and comment next week.