State must fund infrastructure improvements

To the editor:

It is no longer a secret that our state’s infrastructure is aging and deteriorating. According to the recently released American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) annual state report card, Minnesota roads received a D+ overall grade while bridges received a C and transit service received a C-.

Both Republicans and Democrats agree that more resources should be dedicated to fixing our state’s infrastructure, and Governor Walz has made this a top priority. Unfortunately, there is no agreement on how best to increase funding. Insisting on one funding source without being open to compromise will only lead to gridlock. We need state leaders to work together to solve this problem.

Without some kind of additional funding, road, bridge and transit needs in our area will go unaddressed. We need the governor, House and Senate to work together to find a transportation funding solution that can pass and be signed into law in 2019. Delay will only make our problems worse and more expensive.

In our area, we need Highway14 expanded from Nicollet to New Ulm as well as improvements made to Highways 169, 60 and I-90, in addition to replacing local deficient bridges and improving local roads. When state and federal funds are inadequate, it puts more pressure on local property taxpayers.

TRUE Transit, Watonwan County Take Me There Transit, Prairie Lakes Transit, Prairieland Transit and Community Transit provide needed transit service but cannot expand service to serve more areas and more people without additional funding.

Safety is a serious issue on our roadways. More Minnesotans were killed and injured in traffic crashes in 2018 than in 2017, an estimated 380 lives lost. Most auto fatalities and injuries occur on two-lane, undivided roadways in rural areas.

Minnesota’s subpar infrastructure is becoming more noticeable as the snow melts and our crumbling infrastructure is unveiled. The legislature is set to adjourn in May, just before Minnesota families embark on their summer road trips. We cannot afford to have another year with more accidents, injuries, and fatalities. We cannot afford to regress.

It is a matter of life or death.

Vance Stuehrenberg

Blue Earth

County Commissioner

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