Governor Dayton Aims To Improve Minnesota Roads
Minnesotans will experience smoother rides on more than 700 miles of state highways under the ‘Better Roads for a Better Minnesota’ infrastructure improvement program announced this week by Governor Mark Dayton and Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel. The four-year program, aimed at improving existing highways determined to be in ‘poor’ condition, will result in approximately 9,900 direct and indirect, private sector jobs across our state. About Better Roads for a Better Minnesota, Governor Dayton said, “This important program will support thousands of private sector jobs for Minnesotans, and through the Better Roads for a Better Minnesota initiative, we will see major improvements in transportation infrastructure. Improved highway conditions will benefit citizens and businesses, making it easier for employees to travel to and from work, and easier for businesses to get goods to and from market.”
Funding for the $398 million Better Roads program does not require any increased revenue – instead, it will come from current state and federal funds, as well as previously authorized bonds. This Better Roads funding is in addition to the $980 million the Minnesota Department of Transportation already has committed through June 30, 2014 (FY 2015) for improving pavements.
“Minnesota roads are aging faster than our transportation investments can keep up,” Sorel said. “Investing in roads now will stop the accelerated decline of our infrastructure and allow for more sustainable maintenance in the future.”
State performance measures currently show that about 750 miles of trunk highway in Minnesota are classified as ‘poor’ condition. Without additional investment, the number of miles in ‘poor’ condition is estimated to increase to 1,900 by the year 2020.
Sorel said that a key component of the Better Roads program will be exploring use of innovative methods of contracting, design and construction to get the highest return on investment.
According to Federal Highway Administration estimates, 9.5direct jobs are supported per million dollars spent on highway construction, or about 3,400 direct jobs. The bulk of the Better Roads work will be concrete and asphalt repaving, requiring heavy equipment operations. Contractors will excavate and then repair or replace culverts and other drainage systems, and electricians will work on light systems and traffic signals as needed. There will also be freeway traffic management system repair work, and American Disabilities Act masonry work such as curb ramps and sidewalks as well as traffic signal crossing enhancements.
More details about the program as it develops will be available at www.dot.state.mn.us\betterroads.